In an era where funding for public landscapes is diminishing, communities are more than ever required to develop new methods to contribute to the design of their public landscapes. Landscape architects can play an important role in leading citizen groups towards increasing the democratization and amount of public open space, both in the planning and the activation. The Yerba Buena Street Life Plan is a new standard for district-level planning, funded through a community benefit district, and a unique approach to empowering local community organizations to participate in improving their public realm.
Kevin Conger, of CMG Landscape Architecture, received his nomination, for Leadership/Management, from the Northern California Chapter. His sustained focus on the improvement of San Francisco's open public space has established deep relationships among sustaining organizations and public agencies. He has been a design leader for many of San Francisco’s projects of benefit to the public, which recently includes the redesign of Market Street, San Francisco’s main transit and cultural boulevard. He has also carried his transit-oriented infrastructure concepts to Seattle. Even in his more modest projects he has generated significant community empowerment, such as a nonprofit farm-park that provides fresh, healthy produce to the food desert of West Oakland. His BSLA is from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and MLA from Rhode Island School of Design.
In 2013, Kevin Conger was awarded a Seed Fund Fellowship for his design work and commitment to more vibrant, democratic space in San Francisco. Among his other work, this especially celebrated his work with the Yerba Buena Street Community Benefit District, resulting in the Yerba Buena Life Plan.
With little space available for expansion, the project team was challenged with designing for a narrow, steep and sloped site. The result is a series of terraced floors expanding horizontally across the site, and includes both indoor and outdoor spaces. The RMB used a steel space truss system to maximize usable space below the building, and keep construction costs low.
Through a continuous public/private partnership, the Presidio Trust and Forest City Residential rehabilitated and adaptively used the Presidio Health Service district to create a sustainable mixed-use community within a unique national park…It features housing, office space, a preschool, trails, and 25 acres of open space and native habitat. Rents help sustain the National Historic Landmark District. None of it would have worked without Presidio Trust and Forest City’s public?private partnership. Together, the partners brought the dynamic historic site back to life, and have ensured another successful chapter in its history.
At Marin Country Day School, the Landscape Architect collaborated on the Master Plan and Phase I and II implementation to provide a refreshed and unique identity to the existing campus through creating a purpose for all exterior environments. The scope of landscape architectural work began with a study of the broader systems, ecological and human, that formed the existing campus landscape. One of the early visions was to connect curriculum to the material fabric of the campus. These connections include opportunities for native habitat restoration, educational hydrological relationships, and academic ritual. The story of water’s interaction with this valley encouraged the team to explore water system integration in the new design of Phase 2, including rainwater harvesting, greywater reuse, stormwater infiltration and native stream restoration.
The Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building is a research laboratory dedicated to the promising, yet controversial, field of stem cell research. The new building overcomes unique and formidable site challenges in order to facilitate the transition between an urban medical campus and a wooded nature preserve, while fulfilling programmatic requirements. The jury was particularly impressed with the simple plan on one of the most difficult sites imaginable with an extremely complicated program.
North America’s first net-zero energy classroom building is nestled into nature on an idyllic campus located north of San Francisco. The design for this LEED® Platinum project – which includes art studios, classrooms, a new Learning Resources Center with library, and computer labs – emphasizes interconnectedness between buildings and landscape equally.
The Presidio Landmark is the transformation of a 220,000 sf 1932 historic Public Health Service Hospital in the Presidio into 154 apartments and related amenities. The centerpiece of a 36-acre revitalized LEED ND district, this $60 million historic tax credit LEED Gold building is a model for sustainable historic preservation. Noted the jury, "Abandoned, neglected and abused, the transformation of this building shows the results of a public private partnership committed to sensitive restoration."
The Presidio Landmark is the transformation of a 1932 historic Public Health Service Hospital into 154 apartments and related amenities. The centerpiece of a 36-acre revitalized district, this historic tax-credit LEED Gold building is a model for sustainable historic preservation.
This multi-family residence is the only newly constructed residential building in this Northern California national park, and the first multi-family residence in San Francisco to receive a LEED Platinum rating. Developed as part of an adaptive re-use project, the building is adjacent to a former hospital renovated into over 200 rental units, and to World War I era former officers’ quarters. The project demonstrates the evolution of the area, a national historic landmark, to a public place defined by 21st century aesthetic and programmatic functions.
Crissy Field Environmental Education Center
On Monday, November 8, 2010 City Slicker Farms was awarded $4,000,000 for a “West Oakland Park and Urban Farm” project. The funds come from Proposition 84, a California bond initiative approved in 2006, which reserves 5.4 billion dollars in bonds for projects involving water quality and access, park improvements, and natural resources and park preservation. The funds will be used to purchase a vacant lot in West Oakland at 28th and Peralta Streets and construct a farm and park there. At 1.4 acres, this will be City Slicker Farms’ largest farm site; greatly increasing their ability to grow and distribute food for the West Oakland community. City Slicker Farms conducted a three-month long community design process with West Oakland youth, seniors, and families to determine what they wanted in the new park.
This LEED® for Schools Platinum project is an independent Kindergarten through 8th grade school, located in Corte Madera. The school’s development plan is deeply rooted in conservation, smart resource management, and the critical role of education in fostering environmental consciousness. The second of two major phases, this project includes the construction of a new library, art studios, and classrooms, as well as a major rehabilitation of the adjacent creek area. Innovative design features emphasize efficiency and responsible material selection, while providing opportunities for the students to cultivate their own sense of stewardship for the environment.
Conger Moss Guillard (CMG) is a landscape architecture firm providing collaborative design and management services to a wide range of public, institutional, and private clients since 2000. CMG approaches landscape architecture as an ‘open field’ operating at the nexus of planning, architecture, art and ecological design. At the heart of CMG’s practice is the idea of building community.
Project: Paseo Senter
The Housing and Custom Residential Knowledge Community of the AIA, in conjunction with HUD, recognizes excellence in affordable housing architecture, neighborhood design, participatory design, and accessibility. Good design is a cornerstone of thriving homes and communities of all incomes and backgrounds. These awards demonstrate that design matters, and provide examples of important benchmarks in the housing industry.
Fort Scott Cultural Landscape Report
The $1.05-million Crissy Field Center, an award-winning environmental education center located in San Francisco’s Presidio National Park, which serves nearly 20,000 youth annually, needed to relocate due to one of the city’s largest public works projects: the rebuilding of the Golden Gate Bridge approach (Doyle Drive). The Crissy Field Center staff had to work quickly to find a new location for its classrooms, labs, cafe and visitor amenities within six months. Their solution turned out to be a golden “green” opportunity. One of the nation’s greenest park-based buildings promises to be an outstanding model of sustainability. The Crissy Field Center is one of the most technologically advanced, energy-efficient, and healthy buildings in the park, which can also serve as a teaching tool for the Center’s youth participants and general public. In fact, The center is under consideration as a potential Federal demonstration site for alternative energy production, enabling scientists to test out new solar and wind technologies.
In 2010, San Francisco Beautiful recognized the Mint Plaza revitalization project with a Beautification Award. This former alley is now a public pedestrian plaza, donated to the City by the Martin Building Company, and maintained and managed by the non-profit Friends of Mint Plaza. With movable chairs for frequent events, this sophisticated design provides a new urban stage and a model for underutilized alleys throughout our inner city. For more than 40 years, San Francisco Beautiful has been honoring San Franciscans who make special contributions to the unique character and beauty of our City with the Annual Beautification Awards.
The SFMOMA’s rooftop garden is an open-air gallery defined by the intersection of sculpture, space and light. The entire back wall of the museum’s top floor is removed, allowing a seamless connection from gallery to garden. A large panoramic window at this new opening offers an elevated view to the garden, presenting it like a landscape painting inside the gallery.
The design for Mint Plaza transforms a downtown back alley into a vibrant public pedestrian plaza and festival space that not only serves adjacent buildings, but also provides needed public space for the neighborhood and local workers. A simple but rich ground plane captures the alley way while an arbor brings a human scale to the space and provides a dramatic identity for the new landscape. In addition, the space is populated by dramatic light fixtures, moveable seating, benches and trees, while all site storm water is captured and treated in rain gardens and ultimately returned to the ground through a large sub-grade infiltration basin. The arbor and plaza grading subtly delineate zones of day to day use for dining areas, performance space and vehicle access, while the plaza remains a flexible open space to serve any number of events and program.
The plaza is a model for using sustainable design principles in dense urban areas that require substantial amounts of paved surfaces. The plaza's shifting planes direct rainwater into treatment gardens and an underground infiltration basin, reducing runoff and helping to protect San Francisco Bay. This system is a low-tech, easily reproducible design and is the first instance of fully integrating an environmentally responsible design of this scale in a San Francisco public open space. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission now uses this system as a model for other projects.
Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life
Bringing new life to a remediated brownfield site (once the world headquarters for Sun Microsystems), the multigenerational Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life is anchored by a community center offering educational and cultural events, along with fitness facilities, a theater, a preschool, and arts and crafts studios. In keeping with this rich social tapestry, each building’s design reflects its unique purpose…but buildings aren’t the only contributors to this project’s profound sense of place. Equally important are the pedestrian walkways and plazas between them, each of which enjoys its own character, proportion, and function. Not quite square, their odd shapes are an outgrowth of the fact that one street in the plan is about seven degrees off grid.
Exceptional Residential: Bay Area Regional Design Awards is a unique design awards program that recognizes the best in Bay Area housing design. ExRes 2010 emphasizes the impact excellent design has on everyday living.
Treasure Island has been selected by the Clinton Climate Initiative as a Model Project for its Climate Positive Development Program. With support and collaboration from the CCI and US Green Building Council, Treasure Island is one of 16 selected cities that together will create a Climate Positive community for one million people.
The project is a complex urban design that will turn a decommissioned World War II naval base into a 13,550-person proving ground for a new urban ecology with innovative sustainable strategies for energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, and low-impact, affordable living. For example, residents will have access to an electric shuttle bus system and will live within a 15-minute walk of the ferry terminal/inter-modal hub, where all modes of transportation will link together. The dense, transit-oriented land-use pattern not only reduces auto trips, it preserves more land for open space, natural habitats, and storm water management while conserving material resources per dwelling unit. The jury highlighted the “inventive use of solar and wind pattern that generated an urban plan with diagonal grid rotated 35 degrees from the conventional layout to protect public spaces from inhospitable winds,” and highlighted other sustainable design strategies, including an organic farm, wind turbines, and location of open spaces as reconstructed wetlands.
Inspired by the tenacious plants that pioneer the tiny cracks of urban landscapes, a backyard is transformed through hostile takeover of an existing concrete slab by imposing a series of "cracks". The rows of this garden contain a lushly planted mix of herbs, vegetables, flowers, and rogue weeds retained for their aesthetic value.
Previously located in three different buildings, the EAL consolidates more than 780,000 volumes of East Asian character language texts—one of North America’s most important collections. While remaining within the campus design guidelines, the building needed to express its AsianMission. Constructed of rough concrete, the building’s exposed structurefeels very solid and continues Berkeley’s legacy of textured concrete. This sense of solidity is transformed upon entering the building. Soft, natural light from a linear skylight fills a long, central void within the building. It is an intelligent interpretation of the design parameters of the university, while remaining respectful of them.
The novel repurposing of common materials coupled with the projects success as a sculpture and community event space make the Bandshell an exemplary model for collaboration between artists, landscape architects, environmental advocates, and community members. The performance and event based aspect of the project challenges the political stasis that governs most contemporary public spaces and raises the question of who and what they are for.
A visionary president and an innovative Building Team set a new green standard for community colleges with Ohlone College’s LEED Platinum Newark Center for Health Sciences and Technology. The $58 million facility stacks up against some of the greenest college buildings in the world, with near-off-the-grid renewable energy performance and advanced stormwater management techniques.
The SFMOMA’s rooftop garden is an open-air gallery defined by the intersection of sculpture, space and light. The entire back wall of the museum’s top floor is removed, allowing a seamless connection from gallery to garden. A large panoramic window at this new opening offers an elevated view to the garden, presenting it like a landscape painting inside the gallery. A glazed long-span bridge links the Museum to a garden pavilion that in turn opens out to the garden through large sliding glass panels.
Paseo Senter: The 2009 Design Excellence Award winners illustrate the importance not only of exterior architecture, but also of the design choices made by the development team when planning residences and common areas. Good design doesn’t hinge on luxurious materials. However, value engineering needs to be done thoughtfully and early in the game for effective results.
The Palms: 555 4th Street
The library is organized around a white elliptical 'sky garden' with a café and reading areas around a tilted moss bed and magnolia tree. Teens are given their own high-energy space. The Children's Library is separated from other collections as well, with the deep blue 'story cone' transporting kids to a magical world of words and imagination.
Blue Star Corner
Blue Star Corner: Drawing inspiration from both Dutch rowhouses and British garden mews, David Baker + Partners' design reveals four rows of tall-narrow buildings that face each other across landscaped courtyards to preserve light, air, and views for each unit. The project maximizes a small urban infill site—maintaining more than one-fourth of the property as green open space—with economy and elegance. It is the first multi-family attached housing development in California to be certified for the U.S. Green Building Council's pilot LEED for Homes program.
The two designed a pinwheel-shaped plan that creates four courtyards around the perimeter of the building. A poured-in-place concrete wall defines the home's entry and extends through the interiors to form a north-south circulation spine. “The concrete was a big organizing move, but at the same time, we didn't want this singular massive move to overwhelm the rest of the project,” adds Yanai.
Blue Star Corner
The Panhandle Bandshell is a full-scale performance stage constructed almost entirely out of reclaimed and repurposed materials. Its novel repurposing of common materials coupled with success as a sculpture and community event space make it an exemplary model for collaboration between artists, designers, environmental advocates, and community members.
Conger Moss Guillard is a landscape architecture firm providing collaborative design and management services to a wide range of public, institutional and private clients since 2000. CMG maintains that landscape architecture is essentially an ‘open field’ operating at the nexus of planning, architecture, art and ecological design. At the heart of each of these disciplines is the idea of building community—and that idea is the central focus of CMG’s practice.
Treasure Island is a man-made island in San Francisco Bay, constructed between 1936 and 1939 as the site of the Golden Gate International Exposition; it served as a U.S. Navy base until 1993. This plan, based on dense, walkable urbanism with easy access to transit, preserves land for open space, natural habitats, and storm water management. The mixed-use urban core and other residential uses radiate from a new ferry terminal and inter-modal transit hub. By regenerating wetlands at its northern end and linking them to the parks network, Treasure Island will host 275 acres of continuous open space.
The design integrates an enclosed courtyard-or sky garden-that directs natural light into the interiors. The sky garden separates the adult and children's areas while bright primary colors and materials further define the visual separation between spaces and circulation. In the Story Cove, for instance, a deep-blue starry plywood ceiling, green carpeting and varied-colored pillows and beanbags offer a delightful children's retreat. In the adult reading area, colorful chairs and expansive windows create an inviting, relaxing space.
“The landscape is integrated into the building, obviously well-though out.” “It’s a handsome house.”
Gateway Childcare Center
Hands at work and minds in thought mix in the multi-faceted ll0-year-old Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. Here, students alternate shop learning with classroom ABCs and incorporate the hands-on studies into the efficient use and re-cycling of materials. Eschewing the sight blight and cookie-cutter architecture of conventional class buildings, the independent school dug deep to fit new needs on a tight site in an eco-minded environment.
The addition at the Lick-Wilmerding High School not only provides 30,000 additional square footage but also reorients the center of the campus with a new Technology and Design Center complex. A new shops building placed below the plane of the existing field – precious open space on any small urban site – allows a variety of terraced landscapes for students to gather above. The jury appreciated the strongly articulated public areas such as the light courts that bring light to the lowest levels and the ease with which students navigate the space.
Lick Wilmerding High School