Firm: CMG Landscape Architecture
Project Designers: Scott Cataffa, Plural (formerly of CMG)
Jennifer Ng, KMDG (formerly of CMG)
Jamie Phillips, CMG
Carrie Rybczynski, Plural (formerly of CMG)
Haley Waterson, Plural (formerly of CMG)
Sam Woodhams-Roberts, CMG
The Transbay Streetscape & Open Space Concept Plan was initially developed in 2006 by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency along with Marta Fry (now Munden Fry) Landscape Associates, many City agencies, and the Transbay Citizens Advisory Committee. The Concept Plan set the vision for this new Transbay District linking the Financial District to the existing Rincon Hill neighborhood.
The proposed redevelopment includes the new Transbay Transit Center and the development of thousands of homes (market rate and affordable), retail, office space, childcare, and two new neighborhood parks.
Our team joined the project in 2011 to work on the 6-block renovation of Folsom Street, from 2nd Street to Spear, and Under Ramp Park. For 10 years we worked to realize Folsom Street (completing construction in 2021) and the plan development for Under Ramp Park continues today.
Folsom Streetscape Improvements
Per the Concept Plan, Folsom Street was envisioned as a new “Main Street” connecting the Transbay Neighborhood to the existing Rincon neighborhood.
In order to do this the existing street needed to be redesigned, reapportioning the street right-of-way to give more space to pedestrians and dedicated space for bicyclists, while still providing travel lanes, parking, and loading for vehicles and buses. The north side of Folsom Street is now lined with new high and mid-rise mixed-use buildings. These new developments were required to set back buildings 15’ from the existing property, creating a 25’ min. sidewalk, which supports a double row of street trees and spill out activity from the new ground floor retail. The south side remains existing architecture, but we were able to widen the sidewalks by 5’ for a more comfortable pedestrian throughway and street trees.
This portion of Folsom is now a model for multi-modal transportation in San Francisco. Specifically, the following design elements were implemented:
- widened enhanced sidewalks to a minimum of 15’ on the south side of Folsom and 25’ on the north side of Folsom.
- bulbouts at intersections to reduce crossing distances for pedestrians
- street trees added to all blocks colling the urban street and cleaning the air.
- dedicated east and west bound curb adjacent bike lanes separated from loading and parking by a min. 3’ buffer zone.
- dedicated loading zones for drop-offs and deliveries in-board of the bike lane, providing an additional buffer between bicyclists and vehicular traffic.
- new bus islands for expanded public bus service.
- two-way travel lanes for cars allowing vehicles to traverse all 6 blocks in both the east and west directions.
One of the other unique elements are a series of rain gardens to cleanse the stormwater runoff from the street. These elements, while simply conceived, were in reality very difficult to construct amongst the web of existing utilities and infrastructure. The rain gardens functionally reduce stormwater released into our combined sewer system, while also providing opportunities for people to sit and socialize amongst a backdrop of landscape.
Under Ramp Park
Under Ramp Park, which spans three blocks and responds to a variety of site conditions and edges, will be a much needed neighborhood park for this new district. Tucked below an existing CalTrans highway and the new bus ramp (that leads into the new Transbay Center) the park provides a link for pedestrians and bicyclists from the new Folsom “Main” Street to the Transbay Transit Center. The transecting streets provide an opportunity to create a series of a park “rooms,” housing a variety of programmatic elements.
At the Folsom Street edge there will be a multilevel pavilion with retail and plaza area above and below community space that will spill out to a flexible lawn that could host movie night, yoga, and community gatherings.
A beer garden, nestled beneath the bus turnaround and overlooking a large dog park, will provide opportunities for community gathering and libations.
The continuous pedestrian and bike connection along the west side of the park will provide a direct link from Folsom Street to the new Transit Terminal. This path interfaces a series of existing buildings and open spaces, including 33 Tehama’s arts plaza, which CMG designed in collaboration with Kusama and her Tokyo studio.