Designing a Better Market Street: Two Ideas

Dean Samuels |

RMW architecture & interiors has spent a lot of time on San Francisco’s Market Street over the past few years, completing design work for 1155 Market, 1355 Market, and 1455 Market. As San Francisco’s main thoroughfare — the place where the multitudes converge — Market Street leaves a lot to be desired. It can be beautiful, but it’s also often dirty, crowded, and downright ugly. It doesn’t provide a reason to linger or a place for communities to connect, and wayfinding is woefully lacking.

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The San Francisco Planning Department, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Knight Foundation recently put out a call for ways to improve Market Street. The Market Street Prototyping Festival will showcase ideas from designers, artists, and makers for uniting the diverse neighborhoods along the street. RMW’s San Francisco studio, led by Tom Tessier, was inspired to submit two proposals. One, MARKETMAPATTACK (click to view PDF submission), is a wayfinding kiosk that connects participants to a virtual bulletin board. The other, PLANTFORM, is a modular system for urban gardening, seating, and bicycle parking. Our prototyping group tried to address the shortcomings that were identified for the Civic Center and Central Market neighborhoods by providing seating, bike parking, wayfinding, and opportunities for interaction. Most of all, we tried to craft a sense of place out of a 10-foot-by-10-foot section of sidewalk — not an easy proposition.

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The festival panel received more than 200 submissions, and will select final participants on October 29. We’re excited to see what other groups have come up with. Let’s make Market Street our living room … our dance party … our garden … our workshop. See you at the festival in April of 2015!