August 12 2014

A “Better Market Street:” The Revitalization Plans for San Francisco’s City Center

Market Street serves as the primary artery of San Francisco serving to filter hoards of pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars through its corridor. Despite the daily quarter of a million people using transit, over 200,000 pedestrians walking its corridor, and thousands of cyclists on the street, Market continues to fall short as a destination point for public space. There is call for Market to possess more of a civic appeal rather than be branded as the city hallway in which flocks of people briskly walk to escape the unpleasant chaos of retail and urine saturated transit hubs.

Market Street Pedestrian Traffic, San Francisco, California

In response, the city is initiating a revitalization plan for Market Street in attempt to cultivate a sense of community and culture in the form of art installations, performances, green spaces, and dedicated bicycle and transit facilities. This vision is even looking to extend to the surrounding architecture on ground level to further solidify the public realm. The plan is called “The Better Market Street Program.” Driven heavily by community and city engagement, the program is reaching to the insight of local communities and Bay Area residents both in person and through digital platforms. Open workshops provide the opportunity for people to provide feedback on Market Street’s fate, while on the technology side, individuals can review current design proposals virtually and give input via social media platforms. The three objectives of Market Street’s facelift encompass:

  • Cultivating a sense of place in sustainable designs;
  • Holding space for sustainable mobility which is efficient and reliable;
  • And promoting economic development.

Along with the Better Market Street Project, the planning department is working to hold a Prototyping Festival asking individuals, businesses, and nonprofits to submit design proposals on how to recreate thirty-six blocks of Market Street. The designs must develop public space which engages people while providing alternative perspective on the concept of city streets and open space. These designs will then be put to test by the public before their final realization. The ideas are endless from street furniture and green hangouts to digital way finding stations and other installations directed to make technology more accessible to larger demographics.

LIZ Project Installation on Market Street, San Francisco, California

One example currently in place on Market Street is an installation through the LIZ (Living Innovations Zones) program called PAUSE. It serves as an interesting juxtaposition in the conflicted world of technology. It is meant to create a sense of place within the chaos of downtown while pulling the typical tech-zombie from their device to interact with their surroundings. Musical seating is set into play due to hand holding between individuals, while two “whisper disks” placed across from each other have sparked numerous impromptu music performances and conversations between strangers. Even a cell phone charging station activated by pedaling is integrated.

Public using LIZ (PAUSE) Installation, San Francisco, California

If successful, the revitalization of Market will potentially create connection between public spaces, reintegrate the street within the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as re-imagine the city center as a cultural and social destination. A retail crazed street dubbed San Francisco’s cultural go-to may seem amusing to some due to the city’s vast number of vibrant neighborhoods, but the appeal of a more beautiful and connected Market Street is impossible to disregard. With the help of workshops and technological accessibility, Bay Area communities have the influence to revitalize their city’s center.

Will these revitalization plans work to revive a new Market Street? And how will technology ultimately link into the system?

Credits: Images by Lauren Golightly. Data linked to sources.

Lauren Golightly

Lauren Golightly is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a degree in Architecture and Art History. Her studies in art history are based in architectural history, theory and criticism, and focus on modern and contemporary influences. A background and love for the built environment, through its ability to create connection and impact based on purpose, site, and experiential view, provides her with an alternative perspective on design and our urban backdrop. After graduating, working as a teacher and doing architectural photography, she traveled abroad to live in the small Spanish town of Mérida. During this time of travel, to study the art and architecture of European regions, she sharpened her critical eye and found inspiration for her time with The Grid. She will be focusing on topics regarding San Francisco’s transformation as a complex city fabric through the housing crisis, sustainability in design, transportation, and the tides of gentrification implemented by community and designers.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 at 9:09 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Social/Demographics, Uncategorized, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “A “Better Market Street:” The Revitalization Plans for San Francisco’s City Center”

  1. s. yates Says:

    Your last questions could not be more poignant: “how will technology ultimately link into the system?” Perhaps more definitively, the project is located within the world’s leading technology sectors and cities. How will technology sectors advance and “create connection between public spaces, reintegrate the street within the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as re-imagine the city center as a cultural and social destination?” Are the technology sectors up to the task to not only re-imagine but set precedents for cities around the world.

  2. Lauren Golightly Says:

    I am excited to see how the tech-minded and tech companies will integrate into reimagining the public sectors of the city. I could be wrong, but I am under the impression that some of the newer big tech inhabitants of San Francisco (twitter, square, etc.) tend to stay more introverted or disconnected. It seems they are somewhat unaware of how they can become involved in shaping the city rather than just being a part of it. On the other hand, more established tech companies like Autodesk and the Exploratorium museum are already placing experimental installations throughout the city to redefine public space. San Francisco has the potential and the minds to reshape our definition of “city” worldwide. I just hope they can recognize this potential and run with it.

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