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International Waterfronts Panel: Penang BiodiverCity, Malaysia + India Basin, San Francisco

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Learn holistic project lessons from multidisciplinary teams of major waterfront redevelopments filtered through the lens of San Francisco's storied waterfront and its current challenges.


The fifth session in the series includes International Waterfront project, “Penang BiodiverCity, Malaysia and India Basin, San Francisco.”

BIG’s Jeremy Alain Siegel presents Penang BiodiverCity in Malaysia alongside Bionic’s Marcel Wilson and BUILD:’s Lou Vasquez presenting India Basin project in San Francisco. Sarah Dennis Phillips of Tishman Speyer moderates as the panel discusses best practices around design and delivery of large-scale waterfront developments.

This session offers an exchange of ideas around very complex and multi-phased project typologies. It is presented at a time when reduced Port activity, underutilized land and sea-level rise present unique development opportunities and challenges to San Francisco’s waterfronts. San Francisco is one of the world’s most well-known and storied global waterfront cities, but it now faces significant challenges in protecting its historic assets, improving resilience, activating and improving access along its diverse waterfront edge. International cities can offer lessons learned through their successful waterfront planning, design and development. This event aims to showcase some of these projects to the AIA community in San Francisco by featuring multidisciplinary teams from major waterfront developments. These presentations from international practices on global waterfront projects will offer valuable lessons for current challenges facing on the City of San Francisco’s waterfront.

Learning objectives

  • Identify risks and opportunities that come with large-scale coastal development
  • Balance triple bottom-line considerations – Economy, Ecology, Society – in comprehensive planning
  • Integrate urban, landscape, and architectural design
  • Employ place-based climatic and other strategies in a tropical context

Featured Projects

Penang BiodiverCity


Masterplan/Architecture: BIG | Client: PENANG STATE GOVERMENT

BIG, Hijjas and Ramboll have been selected as winners of Penang State Government’s international competition to design a masterplan for Penang BiodiverCity, providing Penangites with approximately 4.6km of public beaches, 600 acres of parks and a 25km waterfront. Our masterplan proposal – BiodiverCity – supports the Penang2030 vision with a clear focus on livability, on stimulating a socially and economically inclusive development, and on environmental sustainability for future generations. BiodiverCity will be a new sustainable, global destination where cultural, ecological and economic growth is secured and where people and nature co-exist in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet at the southern shore of Penang Island.

Penang’s vast biodiversity spans various topographies and protected environments which in recent years have seen its coastal zones and natural habitats disrupted by urban developments. In contrast, BiodiverCity is conceived as an Urban Mosaic of three diverse islands, and a set of urban design guidelines for mixing programs, addressing pedestrian and mobility networks, building sustainably and harvesting resources. The three islands bring together mixed-use districts of 15,000 to 18,000 residents across 50 to 500 acres, and a continuous 50 to 100m buffer around each district, establishing habitat connectivity and supporting edge ecologies in reserves, parks, corridors and urban plazas.

Jeremy Alain Siegel, AICP, Associate-in-Charge at BIG NYC, discusses the project in the context of BIG’s developing body of work in urban infrastructure and planning.

India Basin, San Francisco


Landscape Architect: BIONIC LANDSCAPE Client: BUILD:

India Basin is a post-industrial waterfront in a high-tech city. It is the transformation from a feral and forgotten place to a new expansion of the city enabled with a super-natural landscape designed for the future. Over 7 acres will be dedicated to open space and coastal wetlands designed to be resilient to shocks and changes over time. The shoreline is designed to adapt over time to sea level rise through living shorelines. The team worked closely with Bay Agencies to reframe policies on waterfront development and coastal adaption.

User rating:
Average: 3 (1 vote)
 $40  non-member
 $25  member
1.00 LU