Galleries: Building San Francisco’s Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center

Over the past year, a lot’s been written about Mayor London Breed’s effort to get people in need off the streets and connected with housing and services. Arguments for and against the center’s reason for being and/or location have been well documented, televised, and socialized. This post won’t be going into any of that. Instead, I’ll be sharing pictures of a transformation I’ve been witnessing at Seawall Lot 330 since the first gates went up on July 8, 2019.

A Preliminary Site Plan to help us get situated

I’ve been finding the whole process of turning a parking lot into housing fascinating. From breaking ground, digging foundations, rebar, and the myriad of people coming and going to the trucks, trenching, metal arches, water hoses, and cement pouring machines that look like giant Ms in the sky—there’s so much to take in—so many reasons to take pictures.

As days turned into months and buildings started to take form, I realized I didn’t know what I was looking at. I didn’t have names for the structures coming to life. After my search at (the URL provided on the site’s sign for more information) came up empty , I found a public-facing PDF online that showing the center’s preliminary site plan with the proposed building layout (see below). 

Proposed site plan, Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center, Seawall Lot 330

While the image quality is pretty poor (apologies), it gave me the context I needed to give structures names and organize the galleries for this post. For the most part, we’ll be looking at buildings C (Community Services), D (Dormitory), and E (Toilets & Showers).

Now, without further ado—the Building of San Francisco’s Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center.

Gallery:  Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center – Full, Overhead View

Gallery:  Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center – Dormitories

Gallery:  Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center – Community Building

Gallery:  Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center – The people building it

Gallery:  Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center – Toilets & Showers

Gallery:  Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center – Around the grounds

Sun rises over soon-to-open Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center

From parking lot to shelter for hundreds, the transformation of San Francisco’s Seawall Lot 330 is almost complete. The grounds once cluttered with heavy machinery, crates, and vehicles have been cleared for tables and chairs. The final privacy fences are up. Shrubs have been planted. Lighting is on from dusk until just past dawn on the grounds.

In my previous post, I shared a series of galleries that documented the building of this highly-publicized, hotly-debated center. The project I started in early July really had more to do with the fascination of watching asphalt turned into housing. I didn’t question snapping pictures of the buildings going up or of the crews making it all happen. But this morning, as I watched the sun rise over the center, and heard Reggie Aqui in the background announce its opening on the morning news, it became apparent to me that I’d have to find another side project. Soon the empty grounds will be filled with residents. Real people with lives who deserve privacy.

And with that realization, I leave you with a few images of this morning’s sunrise over the soon-to-be-occupied Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center.