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Project Name: Rincon Park

Firm: O|CB Studio

Project Designers: Cheryl Barton, FASLA, Principal, O|CB; Cindy Sanders, FASLA, Principal, Olin


Situated at the foot of Folsom Street, Rincon Park was an opportunity to create new public space on San Francisco’s Central Waterfront after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Four years of master planning resulted in rerouting the Embarcadero roadway westward, opening up extraordinary pedestrian access to the Bay edge.

The park’s primary landform is a tilted plane of green, inclined toward the Bay – an amphitheater for the spectacular views and a sound barrier to the traffic noise from the Embarcadero. The sloping landform, which concealed contaminated soils, saved $1M in construction costs, and created the perfect pedestal for “Cupid’s Span” – the playful Oldenburg/van Bruggen sculpture.

Arcing walls on the park’s western edge frame the green plane and establish an armature that folds two restaurants into the composition. A series of smaller tilting and arcing walls edge Herb Cane Way and recall the after images of advancing waves on this ‘rincon’ – a former beach. An entry plaza and promenade continue the axis of Folsom Street to the water’s edge maintaining the east-west view corridor from City to Bay.

The site, formerly occupied by railroad and shipping companies, was characterized by extensive areas of contamination. Site specific remediation strategies were developed to isolate contaminated from non-contaminated soils. Tree species were selected specifically for their ability to survive in this difficult environment and soils were further amended to support a native/adaptive coastal plant palette.

The park opened in 2002.