Planning a Better Public Space in San Francisco

Planners and parks officials in San Francisco are making moves to reimagine currently underused public space in the heart of the city as a new civic park and gathering place.

"The goal is to create a lively crossroads of enticing fun, rather than the 20 acres of scenic but little-used space that now spills inland from the Ferry Building. Chicago's lakefront is a model: Millennium Park, where 24.5 acres of train tracks were transformed into a wildly popular phantasmagoria that draws locals and tourists alike. Or Grant Park, where President-elect Barack Obama spoke on election night to more than 200,000 people."

"Yes, the latter scene was a scheduled event. But crowds also filled New York's Time Square that night, attracted by nothing but big-screen televisions and a desire to, communally, mark the time when change and hope arrived."

"It turns out that two city departments, Planning and Recreation & Park, jointly budgeted $100,000 this year to study potential changes to the half-mile stretch of the Embarcadero between Mission Street and Broadway. Now, nudged in part by election night, staff this week will begin kicking around ideas, asking outside designers for advice as well."

"Planners emphasize that nothing will happen quickly: The first step is to see whether some visionary concept might spark the imagination of political leaders and - equally important - private individuals or foundations with deep pockets. If so, there could be a formal design competition sometime next year."

Full Story: San Francisco needs a place to gather

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