Our May contest was about Missing Teeth: a gap in the urban fabric, an empty lot, a derelict building, etc. At our Designing with Drinks event on May 16th at the Homestead, we provided entry forms, information, and visuals on the three locations below, and asked contestants how they would activate, enjoy, re-purpose, or transform these spaces back into a valuable piece of the community:
1) The old SF Chronicle Kiosks currently out of operation downtown
2) The old Cala Foods parking lot on S. Van Ness near 23rd Street
3) The University Mound Nursery Greenhouses in the Portola district
Our Judges for May were the talented and fierce Jacob Gilchrist, Landscape Architect and Andres Powers, legislative aide and urban planner. As both of them are wicked busy gentlemen, we had to meet with them separately. All the entries were evaluated anonymously. Not having the judges in the same place at the same time produced some really interesting results. We have two winners this month – each judge felt strongly about their #1 choice, and both judges picked the same entry for #2. It was in fact the only entry they both selected. As a result we now have a Best in Show award to hand out, which led to honoring the runner-ups. It was an embarrassment of riches, really. Here they are:
THE MAY WINNERS
Andres’ Winner = #0908 RAINWATER REVIVAL – ANONYMOUS
This strikes the right balance of forward thinking and practicality. It could totally happen, and would help bring what is particular about this site to light: the history of the greenhouses, the adjacent reservoirs hidden in plain sight, and a buried creek. Different parts of this have been proposed before by different groups, but tying them together is great.
Jake’s Winner = #7826 ROAMING GARDEN – URBAN MATTERS DESIGN LAB & Stephanie Houston
All the essential elements for a successful park are here, and deploy-able where needed. As long as that is a movie screen or art installation not a billboard we can get behind it. Unlike other areas of the city where the Pavement to Parks or parklet model might work, Mission Bay has parks in the pipeline, but in the meantime something like this would be drastically preferable to a dirt lot while waiting for ‘the real thing’. Read more about UrbanMattersDesign Nomad project here.
BEST IN SHOW - #9999 OUR LOT – FRENCH CLEMENTS
This was the only entry both judges loved. Asphalt is so pervasive; pushing against that monotony is good. The idea is a really fun mash up of Jackson Pollack and the Mission Mural tradition, at a new scale and orientation. Eminently do-able, it wouldn’t even need to be removed when/if the Fresh N Easy opens up. A mash-up of this entry with the roaming park would be great.
#0007 KIOSK IDEAS – BRETT BOWMAN
Both judges had positive things to say about the same items on this list-of-ideas, although Jake was the one who selected it for his final three. In particular, the idea of partnering with the Exploratorium to have exhibits in the kiosks was interesting and exciting in its potential. Having an artist in residence program for artists to work/exhibit/produce art from a kiosk was also an intriguing idea. Having public WiFi stations and charging ports was also seen as a potential boon to tourists and locals alike. Maybe you could put a quarter in a slot to activate an outlet? Maybe the CIIS students would make great ‘Lucy from Peanuts’ in a box candidates!
#9860 GAS STATION PLAYGROUND – HEATHER RUPP
This property is a perfect example of a ‘missing tooth’. Andres, in particular, liked the way this entry made use of existing infrastructure and reprogrammed it for active use: “Encouraging people to play with their environment is a positive thing.”
OUR OTHER CONTENDERS!
#2697 – Greenhouse Gathering & Gardening Space
This entry takes what is particular and special about the site, and keeps that as an asset for future programing, re-integrating the greenhouses into the fabric of the community.
#1976 – Public Comfort Stations
Practicality of execution aside, having a station where people could wash their hands, brush their teeth, and have access to some soap and water and first aid sounds great. Whether it was primarily the homeless, the working poor, a germphobe tourist, or a dogwalker who’d like to eat their sandwich with clean hands, it would be useful.
#6277 – Hanging Fruit Garden
This would be a beautiful living art installation. If people can do this with tomatoes, why not deliciously scented citrus? It would be easier to harvest than busting a move up your neighbor’s fence to reach that Myer lemon. No place was designated, but we like the idea of putting it in the parking lot, especially after it gets the Best In Show paint job applied!
#6277B – Kiosk Ideas
Think Big! The kiosks are big green metal containers – plant them up! A Camera Obscura would be great fun and a novel way to engage with the downtown environment. We aren’t sure what arrow repellant is, but if it’s a stink neutralizer or air purifying spray: why not?
#2439 – Stitching Western Addition & Japantown Back Together
The concept of stitching together communities with open space is a solid one, and designing programming to support that effort would be necessary too. The pedestrian overpasses on Geary are actually under discussion for improvements. One judge felt that the idea was great, but that Buchanan street would be a better location for the effort.
#9999 – Beemind Idea Hive
Pollinators need all the help they can get – whether human or insect. The treehouse theme was strongly present in our April contest entries as well. It seems The People of San Francisco have a communal longing for more treehouses. Anyone have a free tree?