The Moscone Convention Center was built in 1981 and is a vital part of San Francisco’s economic engine, generating 21 percent of the city’s tourism. The two-block complex is part of a redevelopment area that boasts the city’s highest concentration of cultural institutions such as SFMOMA, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and surrounding hotels, businesses, and residences.
CMG’s relationship with the current Convention Center expansion project began with the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District (YBCBD) Public Space Master Plan. In that plan, CMG identified that while positioned in the heart of the YBCBD, the Convention Center does not currently meet its full potential as the thriving hub of this community. Our interest in this project is to improve the public realm in this important location.
The expansion includes over 300,000 square feet of new Convention Center area, below and above ground, while creating the opportunity to dramatically improve the existing public realm. The project is comprised of many new social spaces, each with different goals and criteria. Our designs include elements to facilitate street life, improved gardens and playgrounds, a new plaza associated with the existing carousel, better pedestrian connectivity via midblock paseos, a new bridge to improve connectivity with Yerba Buena Gardens, and safer and more pleasant sidewalks. A key challenge is create ways to carefully knit each of these separate pieces together to create a continuous park experience, navigating significant level and programmatic changes.
The project design process has been complex on several levels. The entire block is built on top of the underground convention center, so careful coordination with architects and engineers for all on-structure landscapes has been essential. As a public property managed through the Department of Public Works, this project has involved numerous neighborhood meetings to generate community consensus.