Designing for the Driverless Age

When it comes to designing Mission Rock, a $1 billion, 28-acre (11 ha) mixed-use project south of AT&T Park in San Francisco that is scheduled for completion in 2025, architects already are trying to plan for a time when many of the cars on city streets will not have humans at the wheel.

They are envisioning an environment in which fleets of electric-powered autonomous vehicles will function as ride-sharing services do today, except that the machines will never need to take a break, except to charge their batteries. “Lyft and Uber are the avatars for autonomous vehicles,” explains Gerry Tierney, an associate principal at Perkins+Will, the lead architecture firm for the project. “The way we use them is the way that we’ll use an AV.”

For that reason, Tierney says, “none of the buildings are required to have on-site parking.”