The SF Shipyard project in San Francisco is putting smart urban living to the test
Reading time: 10 minutes
California has long been a place that inspires big dreams. After the gold rush in the 19th century, the state is now home to the digital gold rush. Today, “future history” is being written in a former shipyard in San Francisco – with the help of Bosch technology.
Twelve thousand homes plus restaurants, shops, offices, parks, and an entire boulevard for innovative companies: SF Shipyard creates an impression of openness, connectivity, and sustainability. A sign proclaiming “Welcome, visionaries” stands at the entrance to the first residential streets, with houses that already have people living in them.
A glimpse into the future of smart living is afforded by one of those hefty coin-operated binocular viewers that have been around since the last century. Mounted on a pedestal, it swings 360 degrees to the left or right. This vantage point atop a hill next to San Francisco Bay is named, appropriately enough, “Overlook.” To the left is downtown, and the international airport is a few inlets over to the right. It’s prime real estate for building, the last such parcel within the city limits, and it covers an area larger than Monaco. Directly ahead is a huge gantry, a vestige of the sprawling shipyards that gave this area its name. The steel giant remains as a symbol of the city’s industrial might.
The term “smart living” has been coined to describe what happens when technology – and in particular, internet-based services – becomes so interwoven with everyday life that at some point, there’s no way to separate the two. “Modern communities define themselves via technology,” says Kofi Bonner, regional president of community developer FivePoint. “Connected technology is everywhere. It’s what drives us. And the way people use it is going to change. We’re paving the way for this.” FivePoint is a spin-off of Lennar Corporation, one of the biggest real-estate builders in the United States. For 15 years, they have been working together to build the city of the future on this brownfield site. The dream that Kofi Bonner is helping to shape is one of attractive, intelligent urban living – sustainable, flexible, and connected.
Expectations are high. Not just because the project is worth eight billion dollars, but also because of the pace of progress. Anything planned today has to meet people’s demands and the technological requirements of the future. Hence the project slogan: Creativity, Curiosity, Community.
Bosch comes to the Bay
Anyone who wants to build and sell houses and solutions now or in the future has to anticipate what lies ahead. It’s a balancing act that calls for a partner who doggedly and repeatedly pushes the boundaries of their own thinking: from smart solutions to the smart home, from the smart community to the smart city. Bosch develops such solutions and services and connects them: not just the products, but increasingly the services as well. Today, technology means more than simply offering new functions; smart living is an all-inclusive, integrated approach. As Bonner looks back on the first year of this collaboration, he says, “It’s better for us to be working with one partner instead of with many individual companies. I can tell that Bosch recognizes what potential this project offers.”
Connected by smart technology
Another thing that makes Bosch so attractive for companies such as FivePoint is the breadth of its services and areas of activity. Among these are the connecting of ideas, visions, and experiences — of bids, projects, and products. Some are still in the pilot phase, while others are ready for large-scale production. The two companies fit together like pieces of a puzzle. They are driven by a willingness to learn from one another, to continuously improve, take advice, work closely together, and be constantly innovative. But beyond this expertise, the vice president of community operations Sheryl McKibben was ultimately won over by the fact that “Bosch, too, understands the importance of focusing on the customer. We're not just building houses, we’re concerned with people and their lives. This is a sensitive area that has to be handled carefully and with a sense of responsibility. What’s more, the construction business has changed: where before you needed mortar, now you have smart technology as the glue that holds it all together.”