Living Seawall Pilot

The Living Seawall Pilot is an innovative two-year study led by the Port of San Francisco and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) that is testing and evaluating engineering with nature concepts from around the world - from Seattle to Sydney - to learn how we can make San Francisco's seawalls more ecologically friendly in the future.

While the Bay Area has had a strong focus on ecological approaches, most of these efforts have focused on land-based solutions, such as marshes and coarse grain beaches. There has been less attention to opportunities to introduce living seawalls, also known as ecological seawalls. 

Traditional seawalls are barren, exposed concrete surfaces unlike natural marine habitats and may benefit invasive species over native species. Living seawalls are designed to encourage underwater habitat. 

The Living Seawall Pilot will test the use of textured tiles made with special materials designed to promote biodiversity. These tiles may also benefit native species and help improve habitats along San Francisco's Bay waterfront. The 90 one-foot-square tiles and six large tiles will be installed at three different locations: 

  • Pier 45 Breakwater 
  • Agricultural Building Seawall
  • South Beach Harbor East Breakwater
Living Seawall Locations

The Living Seawall Pilot is closely aligned with the principles of Engineering With Nature. Engineering With Nature is an initiative of the US Army Corps of Engineers defined as, "the intentional alignment of natural and engineering processes to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits through collaboration." 

The Living Seawall Pilot is well aligned with the Port's ongoing commitment to preserve and enhance the natural world through engineering with nature resilience solutions. It builds on similar projects in San Francisco's Central and Southern Waterfront, including Heron's Head Park, Pier 94 Wetlands, and Crane Cove Park, to bring ecological solutions to San Francisco's shoreline. 

Learn more about the Living Seawall Pilot with coverage from KneeDeep Times.