creating resilient communities in the face of high densification
Summer 2016 | San Francisco, CA
with Lujia Wang and Natalie Manukian
Geary Boulevard is a major east-west 6-mile thoroughfare in San Francisco, CA. Starting from the renowned Market Street downtown, Geary runs westbound across the Civic Center area, mostly through the predominantly residential Richmond District, ending at Sutro Heights Park at the Pacific Ocean.
Though considered a commercial artery for the Richmond district, this 8-lane road is practically a highway, with priorities given to the automobile, a practice that is slowly being run out of San Francisco.
The Association of Bay Area Governments projects that the population of San Francisco will grow to 1 million, and the Bay Area will grow to 7.2 million residents by 2040. By being introduced to the Resilient San Francisco document created by the City and County of San Francisco, we aimed at following the 4 goals goals set by the City - preparing for tomorrow, mitigating and retrofitting, ensuring housing, and empowering neighbors and communities through improved connections. With these goals in mind, we began to look at Geary Boulevard, its history, the socio-economic standing of its residents, and any design or planning proposals recommended for the area.
We proposed to revive Geary’s street life to emulate the essence of a promenade that supports the densification of the neighborhood and structurally allows for the breezy flow of fog, visitors and inhabitants.
By introducing a light rail system along Geary Boulevard, we aimed to create an east-west transit hub. With the addition of bike lanes and sidewalk expansions, an auto-centric corridor becomes more accessible to alternative modes of transportation while fostering a more vibrant pedestrian experience.
Inner Richmond’s low density provides potential to accommodate more residents. Housing will be built to maintain street level integrity and avoid overwhelming the pedestrian experience. The structural dips in height towards the direction of Geary Boulevard conserve the amount of daylight all units receive while maintaining views of the street and internal courtyard. Densifying a neighborhood calls for amenities to encourage social cohesion- fostering a sense of community, responsibility and pride. The placement of communal courtyard in the center of each residential building provides space for neighbors to interact and share. This is intended to mimic a residential backyard, but with more to offer.
The repurposing of vacant lots throughout Geary Boulevard provides intervention opportunities for an attractive destination within the city that promote community building.