Envisioning A New Civic Center

CMG Landscape Architecture has led a design team to develop plans for Civic Center public spaces through a community-based process that encourages participation and conversations. At an open house event celebrating the community’s role in the process, the vision plan for these Civic Center public spaces was revealed.

Three major public spaces have been reconsidered and reconceived: Civic Center Plaza, United Nations Plaza, and the block of Fulton Street that connects them. In addition to CMG, the design team includes Gehl Studio, HR&A, InterEthnica, Kennerly Architecture + Planning, Lotus Water, Structus M. Lee, JS Nolan, architecture + history, and HRA Engineering.

The design puts emphasis on reaching traditionally underserved communities, particularly bilingual and monolingual constituents. While engaging with the locals through community meetings and focus groups, more than 60 community organizations and over 3,000 people participated in the development of the plan since the project began in April 2017.

“Civic Center’s public realm should be the pride and joy of all San Franciscans, valued as useful and beautiful space that is a unique expression of our city and its democratic life,” said Willet Moss, founding partner of CMG. “With our community and City partners, we are excited to propose this vision for twenty-first-century commons that all San Franciscans are proud of – a civic gathering place that welcomes daily life and everyday use.”

Click here to learn more about the project!

Check out the official Civic Center website!

Recent press coverage:

Seawall Community Meeting

On January 31st, CMG Landscape Architecture, as a part of the CH2M/Arcadis Team, facilitated the third community meeting for the Embarcadero Seawall Program. Over 100 community members came to SPUR on a Thursday evening to hear presentations from Lindy Lowe, Chief Resiliency Officer of the Port of San Francisco, and Pamela Conrad, Senior Associate at CMG. The meeting presented a three part program: Strengthen, Adapt, and Envision. These three program horizons will lead the Port and City through developing resiliency solutions for near term seismic threats, as well as ongoing flood and sea level rise hazards through the coming century. Community members where led through an interactive exercise identifying priority assets and developing resiliency strategies for various time horizons and hazards.

San Francisco Civic Center – Community Open House

Please join CMG Landscape Architecture, the City and County of San Francisco, and CMG’s consultant team as we celebrate the culmination of a year of significant accomplishments in Civic Center. A long-term vision for the future of Civic Center’s public spaces will be on display. The vision builds on the current progress underway and reflects extensive community feedback and ambitions.

Come see the designs, speak with the designers, see art and performances, and celebrate this milestone in the ongoing effort to enhance Civic Center as a welcoming gathering space and public commons for all San Franciscans.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | Open House from 4-7pm

City Hall – South Light Court (off rotunda) | 1 DR. Carlton B Goodlett Place, San Francisco

Click here to learn more about the project!

Pamela Conrad Speaks at Harvard GSD – Climate Positive Design

Imagine a world where every person asks themselves not only “how can I offset my carbon impacts?” but, more importantly, “how can I help solve climate change?”  In a moment in time where close to half of global greenhouse emissions are generated by the built environment, what are we doing as designers to curb this issue? As landscape architects, we hold an important responsibility as the only design professionals whose most fundamental medium includes carbon sinks in our everyday toolkit.  We have a unique opportunity to provide climate positive solutions through our work.

To date the global profession of 75,000 professionals has not been able to consistently measure, track and improve our contributions – but today, that changes.

Come hear Pamela Conrad, Senior Associate at CMG Landscape Architecture in San Francisco and a 2018-2019 LAF Fellow for Innovation and Leadership share her work on developing the Landscape Carbon Calculator. With a background in Plant Science and Regenerative Studies, Pamela approaches her climate and resilience planning projects from a deep ecological perspective. Her continued work on groundbreaking Bay Area resiliency projects including Treasure Island and the San Francisco Seawall Project demonstrate Pamela’s leadership in managing complex project relationships and extensive community engagement efforts. Those projects frame the context of her and CMG’s climate initiatives which she has been sharing around the globe to expand the role of landscape architecture in climate change solutions.



To learn more about Harvard GSD, click here!

To learn more about Pamela, click here!

Resilient by Design: Bay Area Challenge is Moving Forward

CMG Landscape Architecture is continuing its efforts to create a resilient future for the Bay Area through their work in East Oakland and with the University of California Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. Our collaboration began as a part of the All Bay Collective who developed the Estuary Commons proposal for the Resilient By Design: Bay Area Challenge.

Jamie Phillips (Principal), Nico Wright (Associate), and Chris Guillard (Partner) from CMG Landscape Architecture, worked with UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design professor, Dr. Kristina Hill to lead a graduate landscape architecture landscape architecture studio.

The studio curriculum was inspired by our collaboration with the East Oakland Collective’s Keta Price and Oakland Climate Actions Colin Cook-Miller throughout the Resilient By Design process, and a critique of typical development models that promote “place making” without regard for existing residents and communities of color. As an alternative CMG and the UC Berkeley students and faculty explored modes of “place keeping” that sought to develop strategies for adapting existing neighborhoods to rising sea and ground water levels while strengthening their economic resiliency in the face or rampant gentrification.

The students explored whether a residential street right-of-way can impact the communities climate and economic adaptation by adding trees, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), community agriculture, bike lending libraries, and canals that draw the high water table draw down to accommodate  increasing sea levels in the San Francisco Bay Area. Students contributed maps and participated in community planning as a part of the City of Oakland’s to address the climate change in East Oakland.

Click here to learn more about the studio!

Take a look at what the All Bay Collective is doing now!

Here is an example of a video some of the students (Sam Gebb, Julia Prince, and Felix de Rosen) made to illustrate how canals can mitigate flooding:

Lessons Learned | Van Alen Climate Council: Designing For a Future of Food

Lisa Richmond Photography 2019
Lisa Richmond Photography 2019

On January 9-11, 2019, CMG Senior Associate, Pamela Conrad, joined the Van Alen Climate Council trip to California’s Central Valley, known as the agricultural cornucopia of the state, to experience firsthand the effects of climate change on the state’s primary food source. The group comprised of passionate leaders from the Van Alen Institute along with pioneering architecture, landscape architecture, and engineering firms visited UC Davis’s Innovation Institute for Food and Health, farms of various scales, Merced County’s Food Bank, and heard first hand experiences from day laborers part of Caesar Chavez’s organization, United Farmworkers. While listening to how climate effects are changing agriculture practices, like water shortages and increased temperatures, in the back of the group’s mind the question loomed – how can design improve the already challenged way of life for agricultural communities as climate change exacerbates those situations?

One positive takeaway was that agriculture in some ways is more resilient than we might expect – although crops that were once traditionally grown in the California’s Central Valley now may be more successful in the Pacific Northwest, those crops will shift north while traditional Southern California crops will shift into central California. A sort of “crop migration”. However, other challenges will likely be more challenging to overcome – increased temperatures up to 115 degrees in the summer reduce the manageable work hours for farm laborers already starting at hours as early as 3am. The water shortage in California will also continue to add increasing pressures to a volatile society that requires the precious resource for one of our most basic needs. Due to impermeable urbanization and overdrawing from the aquifer, the potable water supply is diminishing, which is spurring conversations of water rights and regulation – of which future issues are inevitable and foreseen.

Through a charrette process, the Council shared initial thoughts and impressions gleaned from the visit with a local organic agricultural leader, Bowles Farming Company, on how design might help to transform the agricultural system and help carry the industry through the changing climate. Ideas generated included the incorporation of alternative industries, like agritourism, imagining predictable, resilient infrastructure systems such as flexible housing, shared transportation and childcare resources, changing people’s perception of food, and  connecting people to culture and place to facilitate exchange of resources and community building.

To get involved with Van Alen Climate Council’s mission, click here!

To learn more about the event, browse these links:


Van Alen Climate Council: Designing For a Future of Food

On January 9 -11 in San Joaquin Valley, Pamela Conrad, Senior Associate from CMG Landscape Architecture joins the Van Alen Climate Council to explore the question: “How can designers apply their expertise to creating a food system that can carry us into the future?”

The Van Alen Climate Council is a platform for interdisciplinary exchange between architects, engineers, planners, researchers, philanthropic partners alike. Their missions is to promote healthy and sustainable communities through Van Alen’s public programming, research and design competitions.

Participants of this event will examine the three major components of food production (water, labor, land) and how they are affected by climate change, as well as considering how to improve them through design.

To get involved with Van Alen Climate Council’s mission, click here!

To learn more about the event, browse these links:

CMG Takes Pledge and Signs Women’s Landscape Equality (re)Solution

CMG believes now is the time for landscape architecture to address gender parity in the profession through a courageous and active declaration of change. All at CMG are passionate about the cultivation of community and respect within our firm, and believe this is the bedrock for great ideas and strong work. We are proud to support the commitments of the Women’s Landscape Equality (re)Solution, an important and timely initiative authored by Gina Ford, Jamie Maslyn Larson, Rebecca Leonard, Cinda Gilliland and Steven Spears at the 2018 ASLA Conference in Philadelphia. If you share CMG’s stance, we encourage and invite you to stand with us and many others by signing and sharing this declaration of change. See here.

Moscone Center Expansion Opens in the New Year

The Moscone Center expansion and renovations are expected to drive a record-breaking year for the biggest convention center in the Bay Area. The two-block complex is part of a large redevelopment that boasts the city’s highest concentration of cultural institutions such as SFMOMA, the Yerba Buena Gardens, and surrounding hotels, businesses, and residences. This exciting CMG project brings community and public realm benefits to an important cultural and economic asset.

With a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for Jan. 3, 2019, the public realm design work will be accessible to all, including; improved sidewalks, gardens and playgrounds, a new plaza associated with the existing carousel, better pedestrian connectivity via midblock paseos, and The Garden (West) Bridge, a public access bridge connecting the Yerba Buena Gardens on either side of Howard Street.

Sustainability is high on the list of expansion achievements. Designed to be zero-emission, LEED Platinum certified building, the Moscone Center will have the largest rooftop solar array on any building in San Francisco, generating up to 19.4 percent of the building’s energy needs. Additionally, the center will be net-positive on water with 15 million gallons of ground and rain water treated onsite annually and re-used for restrooms, watering green spaces, as well as for street-cleaning.

More details on Moscone Center Expansion, can be found through the press links below:

Willett Moss Departs SF Heritage Board of Directors

CMG Partner, Willett Moss celebrates 9 years as an acting board member at San Francisco Heritage (2009-2018). Members of the Heritage, a non-profit group, promise to lead civic discussions about the rapid change of the Bay Area, in an effort to protect our historic and cultural resources; a mission that is as relevant today as it was since the inception of the organization in 1971.

Willett held a position on the Board of Directors as well as, participated on the Projects and Policy Committee, reviewing proposed San Francisco based projects while paying special attention to the existing cultural and local landscape. While on the board, Willett participated in numerous initiatives, including the rebranding of SF Heritage and the development of a joint Heritage-SPUR exhibition, “Adapt/Transform/Reuse” which highlighted 19 projects in San Francisco as models of historic resource preservation.

Pictured above: Mint Plaza