Plans to Make Civic Center the Safest Place in San Francisco

Having drafted three initial frameworks to help gather public input and guide the redevelopment of San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, Fulton Mall and United Nations Plaza, the design team has now created a comprehensive Civic Center Public Realm Plan which will be presented to the City’s Planning Commission next week.

The conceptual design includes a “Landmark District” with spaces arranged for performance, recreation and gathering; a “Flexible, Accessible, Ceremonial Gathering Space” with fixed amenities framing larger flexible plazas for events and festivals; and a tree-lined “Civic Promenade” that would connect the spaces, from UN Plaza to City Hall.

“UN Plaza would be renovated as a neighborhood-focused market plaza that supports the Farmers’ Market. Existing UN Charter commemorations would be retained while adding sites to commemorate local heroes. The plaza’s Leavenworth segment would be transformed as a gateway and neighborhood mini-park featuring amenities like a dog play area, outdoor exercise equipment, and an interactive community message board. A new BART station pavilion and adaptive reuse of the historic fountain designed by Lawrence Halprin would create new amenities that help anchor the Market Street edge of the plaza.”

Civic Center Public Realm Plan 2019 – Bart Market Pavillion
“Fulton Mall is conceived as a new public park and the cultural heart of the district. It would include revived access to the Main Library and the Asian Art Museum from Fulton Street and new uses such as a sculpture garden, information/stewards center, and reading room at their edges. The conceptual design proposes closing the street to traffic to create new flexible space on plaza and lawn that provide settings for on-going and new activities. Lawn panels would be sized to accommodate daily recreational activities such as youth soccer.”

“Civic Center Plaza is envisioned as the most civic space, its arrangement reflecting Beaux Art symmetry and the intention of Civic Center’s original 1912 plan to create a grand venue for large events. The center of the plaza would contain a large, open flexible area consisting of a central paved plaza flanked with lawn panels. Lawn panels would be sized for recreational uses such as youth soccer programs that take place today. At the same time, the conceptual design proposes adding more intimate spaces for daily activity and carefully integrating park pavilion structures that provide pedestrian access to Brooks Hall and the Civic Center Garage. The existing Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds would be retained and complimented by new “gardens of delight” and “gardens of memory” at the plaza’s edges that bring beauty and seasonal character.”

And in addition to solidifying Civic Center as San Francisco’s cultural hub and political heart, with “flexible, accessible, [and] inviting place[s] for all,” and “source[s] of beauty, delight, and wellness” throughout, the concept plan includes the aim of making Civic Center “The safest place in San Francisco,” in part by creating venues for new (night) markets, festivals, performances, activities and events, with the hope that people will “linger in the public spaces during commute hours and into the evening” as well.

The conceptual plan will be refined through the end of this year. An environmental review is expected to take a year or two. And as such, San Francisco’s Civic Center plan could be formally adopted as early as early 2021. We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.


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