SAN FRANCISCO – May 30, 2018 – CMG Landscape Architecture is leading a design team in developing plans for San Francisco’s three major public spaces – Civic Center Plaza, United Nations Plaza, and the block of Fulton Street that connects them – through a community-based process that encourages participation and conversation. The design team includes Gehl Studio, HR&A, InterEthnica, Kennerly Architecture + Planning, Lotus Water, Structus, M. Lee, JS Nolan, architecture + history, and HRA Engineering.
“Civic Center’s public realm should be the pride and joy of all San Franciscans, valued as a useful and beautiful space that is a unique expression of our city and its democratic life,” said Willett Moss, founding partner of CMG Landscape Architecture. “With our community and City partners, we are excited to create a vision for a 21st century commons that all San Franciscans are proud of – a civic gathering place that welcomes daily life and everyday use.”
The project is currently midway through its design and community engagement efforts. The process has focused on reaching traditionally underserved communities, particularly bilingual and monolingual constituents, through public workshops, focus groups, meetings with community and institutional stakeholders, and interactive on-site outreach. Over 50 community organizations have been engaged to date. Some of the team’s community engagement efforts and events have included:
Mobile Outreach Station. San Francisco Planning’s Groundplay Program, CMG Landscape Architecture, and Sheet Metal Alchemist developed a Mobile Outreach Station which is being deployed in the Civic Center. The Station is a playful interpretation of City Hall, Market Street, and the three public spaces, designed for on-site engagement. It consists of two large rolling display/chalk boards, a large-scale aerial map of the Civic Center public realm, and a City Hall suggestion box. People can walk on the map to place stickers of various public space amenities in locations where they’d like to see those amenities in the future.
Community Focus Groups. To get feedback and perspectives from communities often underrepresented at City outreach events, the team organized focus group discussions with local residents from the following communities: Vietnamese (conducted in Vietnamese); Latino (conducted in Spanish), Chinese (conducted in Chinese); and Youth, ages 13-17 (conducted in English).
Community Workshops + Surveys. Two major workshops have been held to date. Following each workshop a survey is distributed both online and in-the-field to allow anyone interested in the opportunity to participate in the project’s progress. The second public survey, on the framework plans as well as Brooks Hall, will be open through the end of June 2018 and is available at www.civiccentersf.org/design-options.
At the second workshop, the CMG team presented three framework plans that include a diverse range of features and amenities meant to invite people from all over the City and all walks of life to enjoy these important public spaces on a daily basis. Each framework plan unifies the public realm through an expanded plaza footprint and safer streets, creates multiple locations for civic gatherings connected by a generous civic promenade, actively engages adjacent civic and cultural institutions, and incorporates existing and new program uses that support vital public life 24/7.
Public Platform prioritizes performance and gathering, creating playful places to see and be seen in that frame flexible plazas for events and festivals. Civic Sanctuary prioritizes San Francisco’s history and civic life, creating an elegant oasis celebrating the Civic Center’s Beaux-Arts setting. Culture Connector prioritizes diversity and culture, creating an expansive vision weaving together ecology, art, and commerce in ceremonial and intimate spaces.
Following the close of the second public survey, the CMG team will incorporate community and City stakeholder feedback, and integrate elements of each framework plan into a single preferred plan, with a final workshop to be held in November 2018.
This work is part of a larger effort, the Civic Center Public Realm Plan, which will represent a unified vision for long-term improvements to the area’s public spaces and streets. The Public Realm Plan is an interagency effort managed by San Francisco Planning in partnership with multiple City agencies including San Francisco Public Works, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco Recreation and Parks, San Francisco Real Estate Division, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The Plan builds on partner projects in the area, including the Helen Diller Playgrounds and the launch of Street Cafe, led by San Francisco Recreation and Parks, The Trust for Public Land, and the Helen Diller Family Foundation. It will also build on the Civic Center Commons Initiative, an Office of Economic and Workforce Development-led initiative.
CMG is a mission-oriented urban design and landscape architecture firm working to increase social and ecological wellbeing through artful design. Founded in San Francisco, at the heart of the practice is the idea of building community. Ultimately, everything we do is predicated on connecting people with each other and with their environments. It is our ambition and passion to design and build vital and sustainable communities and enduring places. We are dedicated to public open space. We believe successful democracies require a vibrant, free, and beautiful public realm – places for people to come together and reinforce relationships and communities. For more information visit: www.cmgsite.com.