Buchanan Mall - Behind the Scenes
by Steve Gennrich • January 1, 2016
Take an inside look at the Buchanan Mall design / build.
Buchanan Mall is a city park that runs through a five-block section of San Francisco’s Western Addition, adjacent to the African-American Arts and Culture Center, the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, and many apartment buildings. The SPS team joined a multifaceted partnership working with local residents to plan, design, and build new park enhancements aimed at making Buchanan Mall a safe, green, and well-used center for the neighborhood.
Green Streets, a grassroots social enterprise working to improve the city’s environment, is a central partner. They’ve been a presence in the Buchanan Mall neighborhood since 2010, managing recycling and composting in the local public housing and creating jobs for the community. Almost since the start, filmmakers with Citizen Film have been documenting the enterprise, using film as a tool for community engagement. Looking for more ways to bring residents together, Green Streets and Citizen Film joined forces with the Trust for Public Land, San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, and SPS to revitalize the neighborhood’s main public space. We worked with the other partners and the residents to support their vision for Buchanan Mall park and to build it collectively.
Public design sessions
A Design Taskforce made of residents, partners, and SPS met weekly and held several public design sessions. Residents set priorities for their site, which included unifying the multi-block park, creating a community garden, and increasing public safety.
Deciding on the elements
In other sessions, the team tackled design tasks. They searched for examples to inspire their work, sketched possible park components, and decided on solutions based on their ideas and values.
Working both at the SPS shop and onsite, the build team—including residents—prototyped, fabricated, and installed the park elements.
Plants and public stories
The final park is just the first step. New pathways, lighting, and banners help define the park. Versatile structures hold plants, audio stories, and graphics that give a sense of this place’s history. It’s a start that we all hope to build on.
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