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The World Peace Memorial
San Francisco Aquatic Park Pier, San Francisco, California

Initial Concept: Mr. Fred Ruge
Owner: U.S. Federal Government and Continental Capital Real Estate Corporation
Location: San Francisco Aquatic Park Pier, San Francisco, California
Date: 1988
Cost: $10,000,000.00 US
Square Footage: Residence--900 square feet; Meditation Tower--120 square feet

Construction Materials: Ferro-concrete, reinforced acrylic, bullet-proof glass, native stone, seashells, stainless steel cable, ceramic tile, copper sheathing, gold paint, anodized aluminum and colored glass.

Owner Requirements: Must attract a great deal of tourism and be a financial success. Must educate the public about the futility of war and the meaning of peace and be the greatest collection of peace symbols in the world.

Ecological Requirements: None

Special Features: 80 foot cantilevered viewing limbs with integral waterfalls, suspended glass sphere meditation space, "X" structural configuration for double cantilever balconies, world's largest collection of historical and ethnic peace symbols, public access computer terminals to display biographies of all American citizens who have died in any war in which the United States have been a participant including the Civil War, copper foil sheathing roof, highly vandal-resistant design, 1450 foot long colored ceramic tile floor mural, 70 foot high kiosk structures, "Butterfly" or "Dove" shape expresses a poetic symbol of peace.

frontal elevation

General Background of the Project: The work of Tsui Design and Research, Inc. was on exhibit in San Francisco. One of the persons in attendance was an executive at a real estate investment firm. This person was seeking an architectural expression for his concept. Upon seeing the work of TDR he contacted us and a dialogue began to unfold which developed the "dream" to a workable level of clarity. Agreements were then made with the local and federal government to lease the Aquatic Park Pier and design development was then cleared to proceed.

The building is not unlike a giant soaring bird poised to take flight to the heavens. Two 80 foot cantilevered viewing balconies contain twelve waterspouts to keep water vessels from hitting the memorial building. Its shiny gold foil roof sheathing is impervious to water and barnacle growth. Shimmering in the sunlight the memorial building exalts the salty winds of the bay. A height limitation of 33 feet created a challenge which directed the building outward rather than upward. The concrete pier foundation created a stable base from which to "launch" the building.

The entire pavement of the pier is designed with a ceramic tile mural using circular tiles 1/2 inch to 6 inches in diameter, Figure 3.56A (sheet 1 of 3, detail of pier and pier plan). These tiles are accented by reflective silver, gold and copper metallic mirrored tiles. At the curbside of the pier a sitting bench was structurally integrated to the pier paving and was embellished with a series of circular bas-relief sculptures illustrating the world's only collection of peace symbols from every continent, culture and historical source. The symbols were cast in circular, high strength, concrete disks of 6 feet in diameter--fireproof, waterproof, vandal-proof and easily maintained.


As one continued towards the main peace memorial structure one first is received by the two parabolic dish-shaped kiosks with 70 foot high lightning rod/lighted beacons, Figure 3.56G (Sheet 2 of 3, plan). Within the kiosks are educational items for sale and public rest rooms for adults and children. The main building is made of reinforced concrete sheathed with ceramic tile, seashells, mineral crystals and recycled glass--all chosen for their durability and maintenance-free qualities. Positioned at the outer walkways of the pier are a series of stainless steel computer terminals for public use. The terminals are electronically connected to a main computer memory bank which contains the biographies of every recorded individual who has died in every war in which the United States has participated including the Civil War and the Colonial wars. Thus present and succeeding generations can type in the name and birthdate of a deceased relative and the monitor screen will show complete information on the personal biography and place of death of that individual. Persons can also mail in additional information so that the memory bank can be continually updated. In this way a personal and emotional connection is made to the memorial helping to strengthen its continued upkeep and good use for generations and centuries to come.

Passing through the kiosks one is drawn to a giant glowing orb immersed within a waterfall, Figure 3.56D(Longitudinal Section). This is the central meditation chamber suspended by nearly invisible stainless steel cables. Inside the meditation sphere one is bathed in ethereal light. The space is surrounded by roses and magnolia blossoms, and coupled with reflections of light passing through moving water envelopes the senses in a dance of light, smell and sound. Here one loses oneself. To enter this great suspended ball one travels up an inclined ramp beginning at pier level. The meditation sphere can also be reached from the south rock waterfall. Here, the visitor passes through the arches of a majestic stone peak extending thirty feet into the sky. The strong presence of water symbolizes a sort of baptismal experience where visitors are transformed.


Soil from every continent of the world is brought in and flowers from various countries at the same latitude as San Francisco are planted in built-in flower gardens throughout the memorial, Figure 3.56E (Sheet 3 of 3, plan). The viewing balconies feature floors of reinforced glass to give an unobstructed view of the waters below. The glass contains built-in lighting which glows at night inviting one to seemingly walk on a beam of light. From the air the building appears like a great golden bird in flight.

Figure 3.56F (Sheet 3 of 3, side elevation) illustrates the building's profile showing the rows of flags from every nation displayed on inclined flag poles. The kiosks stand to the right. Figure 3.56G (Sheet 1 of 3, front elevation) illustrates a view of the building from the water level within the Aquatic Park. Swimmers can swim underneath the waterfall spouts and under the building to view the suspended meditation sphere from below. Underwater lights line the entire pier and culminate in rows under each waterspout, Figure 3.56 (Color perspective close-up of building).

The owner's intention is to create an unforgettable experience--unlike any memorial ever built. The memmorial must empathize with it's visitors by expressing, in architectural means, the peaceful beauty of nature and the senseless destructiveness of war brought on by the baser human qualities--greed, avarice, arrogance and the superficial desire for power.

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