University of California San Francisco 4th Street Plaza

San Francisco, CA

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Image Credit: Drew Kelly

Multi-Use Space Meets Playful Programming

A playfully inspired keystone to the UCSF extended network of public spaces, enlivening the campus, neighborhood, and greater eastern waterfront. Employing an objects-in-a-field design scheme, the plaza is a composition of distinct zones marked by unique features: the Promenade – an urbane tree-lined lane that connects neighborhoods; the Grove – a combination of monolithic timber seats and playful lights within a bosque of trees that compels adult relaxation and children’s exploration; the Amphitheater – a civic-minded sculpture that accommodates small performances and calls children to clamber; and the Central Plaza – a multiuse space for events which is activated by vivid paving patterns and physically framed by the other zones.

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Collaboration with carpenters, concrete specialists, and artists brings custom craft to site elements and paving details that ground a welcoming environment. The plan is a hybrid of sophistication and whimsy – a composition of distinctive zones that serve specific purpose and function; the Promenade, the Front Porch, the Amphitheater, Central Plaza and Bench-walk, plus a new treatment for the city’s public-right-of-way as multi-use trail that privileges pedestrian and bicycle use. All features add up to a unique identity for the open space; a sum greater than its parts. Upon entering the plaza, children immediately sense the invitation to play, jump, climb, run, and leap from the varied blocks, tilting surfaces, and pixilated honeycomb patterning. Image Credit: Drew Kelly, Eric Arneson
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Image Credit: Drew Kelly

This interwoven experience of spaces and places encompasses all people – researchers, doctors, staff, neighbors, patients, students, and children. As the front porch for UCSF’s hospital, 4th Street Plaza is distinctly different from all the others and adds an additional new layer of public space to Mission Bay.