SFO Westfield Cargo Building Completion Party / by Elaine Chan

The new West Field Cargo Redevelopment Facility replaced a 40-year-old existing cargo building at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). It was completed in August of 2014 and is ready to accommodate tenants in the logistics arena. The cargo area is approximately 62,000 square feet, with a clear height of 30 feet. The two office pods, each two stories tall, total about 14,000 square feet. After demolition of the old building, site improvements included the airline operating area (AOA) and adjoining hardstand, the loading dock side and access, and a new raised floor elevation for the facility to accommodate future ocean level rise. SFO proceeded on this project in a design/build delivery method.

This meant that the design and construction team was assemble dearly and competed together to win the commission. Because the McCarthy Builders–Kwan Henmi Architects team
had worked together successfully several times previously, the team was ready to deliver the project on the aggressive schedule that was required by the client.

This new construction project is a state-of-the-art facility, incorporating sustainable technology through the project in order to achieve the airport’s goals regarding sustainability. Early on in the design process, Kwan Henmi was actively involved in the quick response team (QRT) process with the airport. These valuable collaboration meetings provided all team members the chance to work together on the design of the building and vet any concerns about technical issues. In bringing the team together early on in the design process, the project moved forward on a fast-track schedule, eliminating potential challenges.

The team worked closely with SFO stakeholders and optimized their input in order to present a new solution to how tenants could better utilize the space. Through tours of existing facilities and research, the team found that the existing model of cargo facilities was to locate the offices on a mezzanine level, often at a great distance from the tenant’s actual cargo area. It was decided to explore different ways of creating a more efficient and innovative design.
From nine ideas, the client chose the “pod” scheme, a new way of connecting administration and cargo functions.

The building itself will serve as a multi-tenant cargo facility, allowing for businesses of various sizes to operate simultaneously. Based on emerging trends in this type of cargo operation, 
two aspects needed special attention:

  • The flexibility of the facility is not only driven by size but also by short-term occupancy and short-term modification of leasable size. The smaller and midsize operators in this market face varying volumes and contracts. They will be particularly well served if the facility can grow and shrink with their business in near-real time. With clear span spaces, divisible bays, and office pods that also can be subdivided, the facility can vary from one to six tenants with logic and equivalent infrastructure.
  •  The office component of the cargo operation has become more important, since the team recognized that the older model of offices being relegated to a mezzanine was out of date and not well liked by tenants. The design of doors at the landside. Office facilities are located at the landside, in pods accessible to the public, adjacent to the associated loading docks, and directly connected to the warehouse and internally connected to the loading areas behind. They have ground floor receiving functions and a second floor for other office functions, and they can be divided according to the number of tenants. The main building utilities, including electrical, data, 400HZ, and generator, are located along one short side of the building, allowing SFO maintenance personnel access without interfering with any loading activities.