As San Francisco’s business center continues to migrate south of Market Street, a changing urban form is arising. That form consists of new and proposed office buildings (including the $1 billion Transbay Terminal) coexisting with the spate of residential towers that have been constructed in the last decade. Blending these uses and creating amenities that will enhance the human experience are the challenges facing urban planners.
CMG Landscape Architects’ latest offering, Oscar Park, attempts to bridge that gap.
The three block long park, unusual in itself, will extend from Rincon Hill to the Transbay Terminal, filling in the unused parcels under the elevated Transbay loop. The goal of the park, according to CMG principal Scott Cataffa, is “to create a rich, active design that is heavily programmed.”
That programming will include components such as a dog park, playground, picnic areas, retail venues, basketball courts, bike paths, event spaces, restrooms, to name a few. Most intriguing is the slide that begins at the top of Guy Place and ends on Essex: a sort of urban bobsled on the seat of one’s pants! Many activities, to be sure, but because the lengthy park is broken up by the street grid into natural zones, this rather intense program all fits neatly into the scheme.
Oscar Park, although conceived by the City and designed by CMG, has been considerably developed through community input. A citizen’s advisory committee, made up of local residents, businesses, and other constituents, was formed to work closely with CMG. Additionally, two public comment and discussion sessions were held with one more scheduled prior to finalization of the design.
In the wake of California’s recent pullback of redevelopment funds, San Francisco was fortunate to be able to preserve funding for Oscar Park; many other redevelopment projects have been put on hold. The construction of Oscar Park will lot likely begin until 2017 as most of the area of the proposed park is currently in use for construction staging of the Transbay Terminal.
Amenities like Oscar Park are important elements of the urban fabric. More than just open space, Oscar Park has the potential to tie together disparate parts of the former industrial district into a more integrated living and working neighborhood. The fact that it does so with leftover land under elevated roads and off ramps, makes this not-so-little stretch of park a welcome addition to South of Market.