On the Value of Small Spaces in Remaking the Public Realm

San Francisco Chronicle Architecture Critic John King reviews, and celebrates, the recent string of small projects that reclaim public space in the city, calling them "modest works of true ambition."

1 minute read

September 11, 2014, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


San Francisco McCoppin Hub

Gary Stevens / Flickr

John King introduces the idea at the heart of the article by making the following claim: "the aspirations of a city can also be measured in smaller scraps of land - the remnant spaces that often are blighted or ignored, but with imaginative design and care have the potential to be destinations."

"That's why it is heartening to see San Francisco working to fold scraps back into the public realm, making common ground at the community level. The effort began several years ago; this year's crop includes a remade downtown plaza, stray land from a freeway project and a remote dead end."

King goes on to describe such efforts at locations like Mechanics Plaza on Market Street in the Financial District, three spaces "along and under" the Central Freeway, McCoppin Hub, and Burrows Pocket Park.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 in San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Rail tracks on the left, rustic log-built train station painted reddish brown with a green metal roof and concrete platform on the right, evergreen forest and bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds in the background.

More Passenger Rail Coming to Montana

Planning is underway to restore a 45-year-defunct regional passenger rail line connecting southern Montana to Billings and Amtrak’s east-west Empire Builder line from Seattle to Chicago.

May 14, 2024 - 8KPAX

Apartment For Rent Sign

HUD Proposal Would Soften ‘One-Strike’ Policy

Formerly incarcerated people are often barred from publicly subsidized housing, putting them at higher risk for homelessness and recidivism.

2 hours ago - Truthout

Water flowing through Glendale Narrows section of Los Angeles River in Glendale, California with a concrete bridge, power lines, and hills in background.

Los Angeles County Making Progress in Stormwater Capture

During this “super year” of storms, L.A. County has successfully captured 96 billion gallons of stormwater which is enough to meet the needs of about 2.4 million people a year.

3 hours ago - Los Angeles Times

Aerial Texas Hill Country at sunset, with an aerial view of a highway interchange and Interstate 35 in Austin, Texas.

The True Cost of Texas Highways

An explainer of the monetary, environmental, and social costs of exuberant road building.

4 hours ago - KERA News

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.