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Launched in 2013, Autodesk Pier 9 was designed as a place to explore every stage of the process of making things, from idea to digital model to real-world physical product. In our state-of-the-art digital fabrication workshop, our community of technical experts and creative partners collaborate on projects that dissolve the boundaries between software and hardware.

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What we learn at Pier 9 influences and inspires us to develop useful tools for the future of making things. Together, we’re discovering ways to advance 3D design and fabrication technology, to change design, engineering, and manufacturing as we know it.

  • The Pier 9 Residency Program gives innovators, fabricators, industry professionals, and manufacturing partners a chance to work with us in our workshops at Autodesk.

  • Spark is the first open 3D printing software platform, designed to help 3D printing deliver on its promise. 

  • This community of creative hobbyists, makers and experts is the place to share what you make with the world.

  • Advanced computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) tools help designers and engineers turn complex designs into machined parts using CNC machines.


The Pier 9 workshop continues a long historical trend of innovation on the San Francisco waterfront—from the rise of industry and manufacturing in the 19th century, to advances in engineering and shipping in the 20th century, to exploring new technologies for design and fabrication in the 21st century.

  • 1848


    The Gold Rush that began in 1848 brought tens of thousands of people to California in search of riches, and the influx helped build San Francisco into the pre-eminent port in the West. The city’s population boomed from fewer than 1,000 in 1848 to over 149,000 in 1870.

    Rapid growth throughout the state fueled the development of manufacturing plants and other industries along the San Francisco waterfront. A profusion of mining machinery and equipment factories sprung up near the port and thrived as mining expanded in countries such as Australia and South Africa, making San Francisco the world center of this trade by 1875.

    Photo: View of San Francisco Harbor, 1851
    United States Library of Congress

  • 1908


    In the early 20th century, San Francisco’s seaport was at its busiest. Damage from the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was followed by a modernization of the port, and kicked off a period of rapid innovation in engineering and cargo handling, beginning in 1908. 

    The port’s engineers, architects, manufacturers and contractors employed the most advanced engineering technologies to build new piers and structures from modern industrial materials, including reinforced concrete, which was then a newly-accepted material.

    Photo: Construction on Pier 9, 1938
    San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

  • 1945


    During World War II, San Francisco was transformed into a military port that supplied personnel and materials for the war effort in the Pacific. Almost every pier and wharf was involved in military activities, and the facilities were adapted to accommodate the logistics of transporting masses of cargo and people via troop ships and naval vessels.

    The San Francisco Port of Embarkation shipped 1.6 million soldiers and 23.6 million ship tons of cargo to the Pacific theaters in 45 months of war, at times making it the busiest war port in the United States.

    Photo: Military men standing in Pier 15, 1946
    San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

  • 1991


    As ferry traffic dropped after the completion of the Bay Bridge in 1933, San Francisco’s waterfront neighborhood began to decline. The construction of the Embarcadero Freeway in the 1950s, intended to improve car access, effectively cut off the waterfront from the city.

    After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the freeway beyond repair, it was torn down in 1991. The city redesigned the Embarcadero as a grand boulevard, public plaza and promenade—opening the door for ongoing development. Scores of projects, using the latest trends in design, architecture, and construction, have transformed the waterfront area into a vital mixed-use neighborhood.

    Photo: Section of the Embarcadero Freeway in front of the Ferry Building being torn down, 1991

  • 2013 –


    As redevelopment of the Embarcadero gained momentum in the early 2000s, the San Francisco waterfront became a highly desirable location for innovative companies in technology, design, biotech, and other industries. The bayside setting and modern facilities near San Francisco’s transit hubs continue to attract people and companies looking to explore cutting-edge ideas and technologies.

    Autodesk opened its creative workshop at Pier 9 in 2013, joining this community of innovators and ushering in a new era of advancements in design and fabrication.

    Photo: Pier 9 bulkhead building and shed entrance on the Embarcadero, 2015