As San Francisco’s business center continues to migrate south of Market Street, a changing urban form is arising: new and proposed office buildings—including the $1 billion Transbay Terminal—coexist with the many residential towers that have been constructed in the last decade. The biggest challenge now facing urban planners is how to blend these uses and create amenities to enhance the human experience. Oscar Park, designed by CMG Landscape Architecture, attempts to bridge that gap.
The three-block-long park, whose design was released July 12, will extend from Rincon Hill to the Transbay Terminal, filling in unused parcels adjacent to and under the off-ramps of I-80. 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 a dog park, playground, picnic areas, retail venues, basketball courts, bike paths, event spaces, and restrooms, to name a few. Due to the elevation changes across the site, the park tumbles down Rincon Hill in a patchwork of sloping pads, stairs, and paths. One of the most intriguing elements is the slide that begins at the top of Guy Place and ends on Essex: a sort of urban human bobsled run. Plans call for many activities, but because the street grid breaks the lengthy park into natural zones, they all fit neatly into the scheme.
Oscar Park, although conceived by the city and designed by CMG, has been developed with community input. A citizen’s advisory committee, made up of local residents, businesses, and other constituents, is working with CMG, and the project has been through a number of public comment sessions.
In the wake of California’s recent pullback of redevelopment funds, San Francisco managed to preserve funding for the park. Construction will not likely begin until 2017, as most of the area is in use for construction staging of the Transbay Terminal.
When completed the public space should tie together disparate parts of a former industrial district into a more integrated living and working neighborhood.