Yerba Buena | Implementation Tactics

San Francisco, CA

The Yerba Buena Street Life Plan proposes 36 community-vetted projects and initiatives for this San Francisco district, including redesigned alleys, public art, sidewalk improvements, and new public spaces.

Since the release of the plan, several priority proposals have been completed or commenced design, including: Annie Street Plaza, custom bike racks and benches, and improvements associated with the Moscone Center’s Expansion.

Parkmobiles, the first implemented project of the Yerba Buena Street Life Plan, are high-quality, robust containers that hold lush gardens. Parkmobiles are a response to Yerba Buena residents’ desire for more green on their streets, and are an identifying trait of the district. As movable parklets, they can be towed, and installed and removed between two parked cars. The Parkmobile program deploys several of these distinct gardens into the Yerba Buena district and relocates them frequently, covering the district with charming focal points. Six Parkmobiles were created for the Yerba Buena Street Life Plan, each one is visually distinct, and including plants like Tasmanian tree ferns, strawberry trees, yuccas, and shrubs that attracts birds and butterflies.

Outside the SPUR Center, where there was only a blank facade before, now there is a public amenity that has effectively facilitated street life. For the Yerba Buena Street Life Plan unveiling exhibit at the SPUR Urban Center, CMG worked with fabricator Phil Pasquilino to design a bench to span the front of the building to gauge the desire and use of seating in the Yerba Buena District. Similar to the Parkmobiles, the bench was intended to be a temporary, low-impact trial to test the viability of investing in a more permanent solution, yet its popularity has made it a fixture at SPUR.

While the district’s streetscapes are diverse, the bike racks and benches designed by CMG are part of a desire for a more unified neighborhood identity, and approach the urban environment in a consistent way. We designed very collaboratively with Urban Accessories, iterating and testing many different approaches. In this traditional, rustic process, the mold forms a cast, so the real labor goes into the mold. Because of this process, the craftsmanship is also evident and expressed in the final product. Iron is a very fitting material for urban streetscapes, although rarely is it applied in non-traditional expressions. Because it is liquid metal cast as one piece, the opportunity for form is very different from steel or wood, and we wanted to take advantage of those material qualities to make something unique. What we discovered is that the possibility for intricacy is endless.

We designed many forms of a potential bike rack, including ones that attach to parking meters to reduce clutter. What resulted is a rectangle, pinched at the top to appear lighter, with ribs that extrude to feature the subtle neighborhood logo on the foot, and artwork on the sidewalk side. 60 are installed with plans for an additional 200 by other Yerba Buena district artists.