Pavement to Parks: The City of San Francisco

Curator: Peter Merholz
date: July 18, 2011
Categories: Experience Design
Tags: parks
Photo by Peter Merholz
Powell Street Parklet

Pavement to Parks is an initiative within San Francisco to (re-)claim unused or wasted space and turn them into desirable little areas with benches and plants. So far, nine parklets have sprung up all over the city, with the latest being this one along Powell Street near Union Square.

First came PARK(ing) Day, where San Franciscans decorated parking spaces as they saw fit. This movement turned into Pavement to Parks, inaugurated by the "Castro Commons" at 17th and Castro, which took an awkward stretch of pavement (oddly angled intersection and a trolley car stop) and made it a welcoming respite. The success of the Castro Commons trial encouraged the City of San Francisco to support a broader initiative, which has built parklets all over San Francisco.

The most recent, and ambitious, is the Powell Street Promenade, which spans two blocks (many of the parks are just two parking spaces long). Its conceptual designs were done pro bono by Royston, Hanamoto, Alley and Abey (RHAA) and BAR Architects.

A crucial feature of Pavement to Parks is that mutability of the design—the parks must be easily changeable (and, if necessary, removable), with the idea that they can evolve to suit the city's needs. 

Photo by Peter Merholz
Travelers rest in the park

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