Transbay Block 3 Park Project Moves Forward in San Francisco Design Review Process

Transbay Block 3 Park and Streetscape Improvements Project, Transbay Redevelopment Project Area, East Cut Neighborhood, San Francisco, SOMA, South Park, South Beach, Financial District, Embarcadero, San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, San Francisco Public Works, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, San Francisco Civic Design Review Committee

By Kate Snyder

Members of the San Francisco Civic Design Review Committee gave their enthusiastic approval during the second phase of a design review for a plan to develop a one-acre site in San Francisco’s East Cut neighborhood into a community park.

The Transbay Block 3 Park and Streetscape Improvements Project is part of the Transbay Redevelopment Project Area, which includes establishing new public spaces, new alleyways, improvements to existing streets, lighting, landscaping, seating areas and other elements. The park is slated to be located on a one-acre lot between Main and Beale streets and Folsom and Howard streets, according to project plans.

The East Cut, where the new park would be located, is a new neighborhood just south of San Francisco’s downtown and financial districts. Previously, the area was lumped in with SOMA, South Park, South Beach, the Financial District, or the Embarcadero, according to the East Cut’s neighborhood website, but in recent years as the neighborhood has been redeveloped, residents, businesses and community organizations are embracing a new identity to distinguish the area from the rest of the city.

The Transbay Block 3 Park project is sponsored by the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure and designed by San Francisco Public Works. The future owner of the site will be the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

“First we want to make sure we’re creating space for community health and gathering,” said Lawrence Cuevas, landscape architecture lead for the design team. “We want to make sure that this park is sustainable and provides ecological value [and] we want to celebrate the site’s history through the park.”

Stemming from the site’s history as an intertidal zone, the property in question was rich in biodiversity and cultural significance, Cuevas said, and its maritime and industrial heritage has been incorporated into the design through materials such as wood decking, salvaged cobble and granite curbs. The park will also feature public art by Mark Baugh-Sasaki, which will explore the connection between the natural and human environments.

From the first committee design review, Cuevas highlighted the portions of the design that had been changed in response to previous comments. Overall, the basic design was unchanged, but the paths through the park have been refined, he said, and the shape of the central deck was reworked. The playground has also been enlarged to feature two main areas – school-age play on the higher slope and toddler play on a slightly lower level.

Part of the design also includes a Stewardship Building that will serve as a storage and maintenance area for the parks department as well as house a restroom for the public, said Eoanna Goodwin, architecture lead for the project. Commissioners had requested during the first review that the building be simplified.

Commissioners were very pleased with the design, particularly by the landscaping. Commissioner Janine Shiota asked whether the landscaping would include any educational aspects, and project members answered that signage is included in the budget but had no details yet on what that would specifically include.

“We live in a desert,” Shiota said. “California is a desert state, and people forget that. And so this park is going to be really educational and very beautiful but a great way to keep that conversation present.”

Commissioner Abby Sadin Schnair praised the look of the Stewardship Building and said she liked that designers had put thought into the fact that it would often be seen from above by people in neighboring structures.

“This looks great,” Schnair said. “I love the different things that you’ve enhanced here. I think it’s going to be a wonderful, wonderful addition to a very urban part of the city.”

Commissioner Yiying Lu thought the design was excellent and also loved the thoughtfulness behind the plan. Commissioner Patrick Carney said he believes the park will be a real asset to the city and was especially excited by the color in the garden areas.

“I hope your plant selections allow that multitude of color in every season,” he said. “And I think they do, based on your drawings.”

The committee’s vote for approval was unanimous. According to project plans, construction is anticipated to begin next year and the park is expected to open in 2025.

West Coast Commercial Real Estate News