Places for People!

April 30th, 2014 marked a major triumph for the School of Landscape Architecture and students of LAN 498: Collaborative Project: Design/Build/Collaborate as they put their design eye and expertise to the test in the public realm.

At 6am on Wednesday morning, six students, a truck full of built modules, plants, and two instructors, Ghigo DiTommaso and Yasmine Farazian,  set out to install a temporary one-day urban open space that was designed to add vibrancy to the intersection of  Ritch  and Lusk Street in the SoMA district of San Francisco.










Students Manuel Bustos, Mariah Hum, Melissa Co, Shang Jing, Wayne Robbins IV, and Xin Huang busy installing their designs!

Early in the semester, the class set forth to define what an “urban intersection” meant, and to seek out spaces within SoMA that exhibit attributes of the definition. After research and analysis, the students defined an “urban Intersection” as a space in which history, living, working, eating, and leisure overlap and creat synergy. With this in mind, students selected their site and found  Ritch Street between Townsend and Brannan Street to be the perfect example of where an industrial past meets a technological present and intersect with residential use, and local businesses that cater to the needs of the public.

The students then identified challenges of the site  that ultimately led to fascinating opportunities. To the east side of the street, a blank wall, and a former loading dock is used as a seating space by the patrons of the local eateries, namely Cento Coffee, Farmer Brown’s Little Skillet, and Victory Hall and Parlor. To the west of the street, a small parking lot in front of Cento Coffee  is currently used for parking, temporary bike racks, and a few small tables.

Over the course of the semester, students of LAN 498 observed the unmet needs of the site, communicated with the business owners and explained their process, adapted to budgetary constraints, designed, redesigned, and built their creations!

The outcome was the full-scale installation of three distinct design solutions (pictured) that worked hand-in-hand to create a dynamic open space in this urban intersection. The project left the local community buzzing, and the AAU student designers  left a great impression with business owners and their patrons.

Urban Mound: (Designed by Manuel Bustos,IDS,  Mariah Hum, IAD, and Melissa Co, IAD) Inspired by hills in public open spaces such as Dolores Park and Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, Urban Mound used shifting planes and triangular forms to create a multitude of seating, lounging, laying, and gathering experiences. Materials used for this installation included industrial palettes, plywood, landscape fabric, mulch, and turf. Plants saved from the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show helped add another dimension of aesthetic quality to the design.

The concept rendering and final build out photo below speak to the process of concept to reality that was impeccably executed by the students.

The slopes of the Urban Mound proved to be perfect for public lounging!  

The ArmBar: (Designed by Wayne Robbins IV, IDS and Shang Jing, IAD)  A modular system designed to serve as a table and/or chair that can be placed on any ledge  to be used as a surface to eat from, work from, or simply rest one’s arm on. The Arm Bar combines reclaimed materials, and Bluetooth technology to offer a comfortable and entertaining eating experience. Embedded inside the module a Bluetooth speaker system allows the user to connect and listen to their music while enjoying their lunch or coffee break. Alternatively, the ArmBar can be flipped on its side and used a seating surface.


Graphic Timeline and Wayfinding: (Designed by Xin Huang) Rethinking how pedestrians engage with signage and graphic information in the public realm was at the core of this design. In today’s technologically driven world, most people walk with their heads down while interacting with their handheld devices; therefore the design was installed on the ground plane, at the eye level of pedestrians. The graphic spoke to the overlap of the industrial past and technological present of the site as it playfully incorporated forms of factory conveyor belts and microchip designs, while providing information about significant moments in San Francisco’s history.









The Wayfinding Timeline Graphic helped guide passerby’s to the installation while giving them information on key moments in San Francisco’s history!

The School of Landscape Architecture congratulates the students of LAN 498 on their successful installation, and looks forward to more temporary installations designed and implemented by students in coming semesters!

A special thanks to Lyngso Garden Materials, and Delta Bluegrass for their generous donations!