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San Francisco

'Barnacle' Benches Offer New Embarcadero Seating Option

What are those oddly shaped benches that have popped up between Piers 9 and 15?

Turns out they're "barnacle benches," so named because they're intended to offer space for people to cluster like barnacles as they enjoy the prime waterfront views. Award-winning local firm SurfaceDesign, Inc. designed the benches using Autodesk software and technology, Concreteworks fabricated them, and DPR installed them, according to a spokesperson for Autodesk. They're made of glass fiber-reinforced concrete.

Autodesk is a tenant at Pier 9, and along with the Port of San Francisco and the Bay and Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the company recently dedicated the Piers 9-15 wharf area for permanent public access. The Port explained that it contributed the space, which has revenue-generating capacity, and Autodesk funded the improvements.

Here's the Port's statement on the new benches:

Previously, the area around Pier 9 and at the Piers 9-15 wharf had benches, other public amenities, tenant parking and tour bus loading activity. To improve the area for waterfront visitors, the Port, BCDC and Autodesk agreed to a public access plan for the Piers 9-15 wharf area that considers the entire wharf area, and includes the new barnacle seating and railing that was completed on Saturday, June 6, 2015. The public access plan also includes identified spaces for temporary exhibits and signage in future phases. These temporary exhibits may include collaborations with Autodesk and the Exploratorium.

A spokesperson for Autodesk said no one there was available to talk to us, but sent a statement from Jenny I. Lum, senior program manager:

Autodesk engaged designers and makers in the use of our software and technology to invigorate the open space adjacent to our Workshop at Pier 9.  Working with our design team, the BCDC and the Port, the theme of 'barnacles' was conceived to reflect the natural history of the site and the ecology of the Bay.  The clustering of the barnacle benches along the wharf evokes the tendency of real barnacles to crowd together on hard surfaces in the Bay, near the high tide line. In the same manner, the site will create a space for people to gather along the shores of the Bay. In the near future, we will also be partnering with our neighbors at the Exploratorium to showcase artwork and educational exhibits at this marginal wharf.

What do you think of the new addition? Let us know in the comments.

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