Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground

San Francisco, CA

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Collaborative Design with Chinatown Community

This beloved open space—today named after a Chinese American, University of San Francisco basketball star—has served the Chinatown community since 1927. In collaboration with San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, CMG engaged the community through a series of multi-lingual intercept surveys, public workshops, focus groups and meetings with local organizations. Respecting the original park goals and honoring the community needs, the design prioritizes flexible, multi-use play and connected circulation on multiple levels to create a large outdoor space in the urban district. Through in-language meetings and intercept surveys, the design team had the opportunity to listen to the community and understand the need for basic services—ample seating, shade, clean bathrooms, comfort, and safety – as well as appreciate the diversity of ages the open space must serve. The simultaneous use of the park’s spaces throughout the day by residents of all ages was the direct result of the collaboration and design process with the community.

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To define distinct spaces for its multi-generational users, the park design choreographs topography, verticality, and compactness across the grade change. The space spans 40 vertical feet and consists of three levels – an upper court, middle playground, and lower clubhouse – bound by tall buildings. The space celebrates history with the restored Pagoda and preserved murals, while providing more opportunities for recreation with dragon and phoenix play structures, new bridges and walkways, a renovated clubhouse, and a rooftop basketball court. Image Credit: Courtney Yee, Bruce Damonte
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Image Credit: Bruce Damonte

The open space renovation offers the community, families, and neighbors a space outside of their homes to reconnect, play, and gather—simple, yet importance needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground is one of 15 parks included in the capital improvement program funded by 2012 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond. The Park and Playground opened in celebration of the 2021 Lunar New Year.