San Rafael

Marin County

Bionic Team


BionicTeam was assembled around the need to accelerate the response to sea level rise and resiliency at Bay Area sites most in need. Internationally recognized as innovative designers and influencers, team leaders Bionic, WXY, and PennDesign form a potent combination of urban invention. Together, the multidisciplinary team specializes in policy and legal framework design, sharp analysis, creative engagement, equity promotion, pioneering architecture and engineering, and design invention to enable paradigm shifts and invent landscapes that  enable life and stimulate culture.

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BionicTeam continues to work towards a stronger, safer Bay Area, by designing innovative solutions that tackle the impacts of climate change in San Rafael, before disaster strikes. The team's design process will rely heavily on local voices and the political activism of San Rafael to inspire real transformation. Together with community, the BionicTeam will utilize the next design phase to listen to local residents, test design approaches, and ensure the solutions imagined and proposed in May of 2018 reflect community needs. BionicTeam is eager to form partnerships with the people who call the area surrounding San Rafael home.


Oriented around San Rafael Creek, the city’s large low-lying area contains dense urban development including Marin County’s largest concentration of commercial businesses, public services as well as its highest density residential district – the Canal District.


In the next twenty years, San Rafael is projected to have an increase of up to 11,000 residents, the highest population growth rate in Marin County, which will worsen the city’s current overcrowding stress. Not only is new affordable housing needed but much of the city’s current buildings are situated on soil susceptible to liquefaction and prone to failure in an earthquake. Additionally, the Canal District is perpetually choked with traffic moving in all directions. Touting a shoreline more than five miles long, nearly all of San Rafael is flood prone today and will be dramatically impacted by sea level rise. Relative to other North Bay communities and watersheds, the East San Rafael shoreline is remarkably fragile with diminishing tidal marshes. 


BionicTeam sees San Rafael as an opportunity to connect the waterfront to the neighborhoods, make it a destination, and design a public place that provides connection, amenities, and places for interaction. BionicTeam’s initial design ideas include widening and curving the San Rafael creek, creating new bridges and buildings built at higher elevations, and offering improved hydraulics and public space. The team’s design approach aims to provide more room for water and more room for people. BionicTeam will start small and work with a wide range of community groups, residents, local city and county staff,  and businesses to provide a platform for citizen led strategies and capacity building.