Page 1

[re] structuring the public realm transforming auto-centric urban monocultures into dynamic pedestrian landscapes


eric douville // m. arch thesis


Urban monoculture, or the concentration of singular program, dominates American cities. Pragmatism and utility take strongholds in the form of financial districts as well as museums, sporting arenas, and commerce centers. While these major forms of architecture are successful in maximizing utility and user interaction, they are devastating to any greater urban vision, as urbanity suffers from extreme scale shifts or voids in the public realm. Most importantly, the pedestrian experience at the street level is often neglected, creating large swaths of the urban landscape that are uninhabitable and inhospitable. San Francisco’s South of Market (SOMA) light-industrial district, located just south of downtown and the financial district, is currently the site for large scale urban overhaul. Once the location for artisan and light-industrial production, warehouses are being replaced by clusters of high-rise housing and more major urban monoculture. By 2017, SOMA will have a 1070-foot tower, a new NBA stadium, and completion of phase I of the Transbay Terminal project in addition to the existing areas’ singular programs. This grand influx of monocultures is perpetuating antiquated urban strategies in an area that could be repurposed with a greater vision in the creation of polyculture, or urban vibrancy resulting from mix of use and cross-pollination of programs. As the elevated stretch of Interstate 80, which leads to the San Francisco Bay Bridge, reaches its centennial in 2047, SOMA can be redesigned for a greater pedestrian vision, and ultimately a more organic interfacing of polyculture and the public realm. As the urban condition changes in the next 34 years, the pedestrian realm will take back previously allocated auto areas to forge a more livable landscape. The streetscape will become the new public realm, as this thesis does not rely upon the creation of more architecture for change but looks to create an organic reciprocity between architecture and pedestrian. Held in expanded sidewalks, greater presence of light access, architectural porosity and multi-modal transportation, as well as a large park to create a necessary city relationship of green space are all deployed to make a more livable district. This thesis looks to take back the streets and create a more humanistic urban fabric from the restructuring and redistribution of the public realm, ultimately crafting more dynamic pedestrian environment.


The extreme scale shift of the financial district to the lower fabric became the polemic of this design thesis. Humans cannot relate to the monstrous condition that is present at the base of San Francisco’s skyscrapers, nor do they choose to engage. A pedestrian urbanity, where built environment, urban landscape and human are more connected, is available by design.


Documentation of monocultural public spaces in San Francisco. Extensive research was done in the financial district, as it became the example of what needed to be prevented in SOMA.

Connecting monocultures through dynamic pedestrian landscapes, a la Smout Allen.


Urban rhythm study of SOMA’s Yerba Buena Gardens, a monoculture. Auto rhythm prevents the pedestrian realm from being fully realized. This diagram compared the auto-centric rhythm (blue) and the possible new public realm (green).


FERRY BUILDING

2017: TRANSBAY TOWER 2017: TRANSBAY TERMINAL P1 2017: WARRIOR STADIUM

SF MOMA YERBA BUENA MOSCONE CENTER

park edge auto thoroughfare pedestrian st

San Francisco’s green spaces. The thesis design emphasized relating back to the overall city’s urban balance.

AT&T PARK / SF GIANTS

Right: SOMA’s monocultures, existing and planned.

CALTRAIN STATION


kit of parts // design strategies

18�

30�

60�

All designs and accommodation started with the dimension of the human. Thinking about people as individuals in fluid space, congregating in groups, and sitting together were the leaping points for all designs. Everything was based off of the human in space. Just as all designs were derivatives of elements existing in the current fabric, all dimensions and components were based off the human dimension.

Access of light dictates building scale. The existing building stock accommodates for a desired natural lighting condition nicely, yet planning for future development would be limited by light access to the pedestrian realm.

Business flex space allows the built environment to engage the street level in a more humanistic manner. On nice days, businesses can have kiosks on sidewalks and connect with both consumers and passersby on a daily basis.


No housing on the ground floor. Dynamic landscapes consist of connecting people to the built environment. Polyculture is only possible through constructing a more diverse fabric. Ground floors are reserved for retail, service, leisure, and light fabrication.

Porosity of architectural facades keep buildings from being static entities. This is how the built environment engages the streetscape.

Base edge conditions peel back at different amounts to create a more natural landscape. Humans are not meant by nature to move only in subservient linear patterns. These setbacks create a more humanistic environment.


the new SOMA: incremental change of three street typologies

Ritch street, indicative of service streets throughout SOMA, consists of ubiquitous concrete, loading docks, barbed wire and surface parking. Few street trees limit the district’s existing experience.

2nd Street is representative of auto-thoroughfares both in this district as well as in other parts of the city. Four lanes of traffic are paired with parking lanes, with no dedicated bicycle lane.

The underbelly of Interstate 80 is blanketed in shadow and fenced off. Surrounding businesses suffer from its urban impact. The sidewalk offers nothing to the pedestrian, as visual impacts, as well as auditory, eliminate any possible experience.


2013: AUTO, TRANSIT, BICYCLE INFRASTRUCTURE

Only two streetcar lines (N + J) run along the Embarcadero, the eastern edge of the city. Bus routes serve the major routes of SOMA, accommodating for the existing light industrial fabric and the regulated traffic due to present urban monoculture. The transit system will need to be complemented by an expanded bicycle network to be more dynamic as the public realm expands and SOMA undergoes large scale development.

The elevated stretch of I-80 that begins in downtown San Francisco is incredibly divisive, preventing fluid urban form from creating a desirable sense of pedestrian experience, and maintains its presence as a void in the fabric. 75 % Auto The heavy imbalance is evident of auto-centric, antiquated urban form. As the city’s demands evolve, the public realm must be restructured to adapt to changing needs in the built environment and social activity.

The structure of the South of Market neighborhood is rapidly changing. Its auto-centric foundation permits architectural transformation, yet resists restructuring the public realm. Accommodation for street-level activity, for the sake of both this neighborhood and the city, must occur within the auto lanes and not depend upon future architecture, whose shortcomings are inevitable.

Minimal bicycle infrastructure reduces the potential of the public realm’s fluidity. Inadequate infrastructure makes multi-modal transportation unachievable. Accessibility is far too limited.

25% Pedestrian Creating a richer urban landscape will require granting more areas to the public realm. Taking to the streets will allow for a more engaging and sustainable model of city planning. This will also create a greater urban experience for the pedestrian, who in the future will not be limited to the confines of the auto grid.

March 27, 2013 : Transbay Transit Tower (PCP) breaks ground SOMA is changing into an area of monocultural high-rise housing, which will continue to reduce street-level activity, causing lacking pedestrian engagement and forcing travel to other areas of the city in search for specific urban elements. The street condition will continue to be neglected, becoming absent after programmatic hours, if new design strategies don’t facilitate a new urbanity.


2017: Service streets are changed by sidewalks that consume a lane of parking. Street trees (Linden, Fern Pine, Flaxleaf Paperbark, Southern Magnolia, Small-Leaf Tristania) are chosen for their height as well as their spread. Breaking down the environment to a human scale creates a pedestrian rhythm.

2017: Auto thoroughfares have enlarged sidewalks, street trees, and benches. Sidewalks use a herringbone pattern, basketweave, or running bond. These patterns are available in other areas of the city and provide a more humanistic materiality than typical concrete sidewalks. Bicycle lanes are aggressively expanded in the first four years.

2017: Sidewalks, street trees, and bicycle lanes are given the same treatment. A few food carts are placed to both attract people and notify of future, larger development.


2017: AUTO, TRANSIT, BICYCLE INFRASTRUCTURE

Transit networks will structurally remain the same in 2017. It will be given urban hierarchy to make transportation faster and more efficient. By changing transit structure, accessibility throughout the financial district, SOMA, and into Mission Bay will become expedited and manageable.

Bike lanes begin to line service streets, changing them into pedestrian corridors. The 2017 bike network will complement the existing transit infrastructure to connect monocultures on the outskirts of SOMA. . As this begins to change the macro scale of the urban fabric, programmatic shifts in the built environment can begin to alter the pedestrian experience and the engagements of the street network. Bicycle network extends into Mission Bay and down to Potrero Hill

60% Auto In the first four years, the aggressive restructuring of the bicycle network, the public realm, and the reduction of auto presence in SOMA sets the stage for the next phase of incremental change. Barrier : Interstate 80 to the SF Bay Bridge No change occurs to Interstate 80 by 2017. From 2017 to 2032, land acquisition and integration of new strategies will carry through 2047.

Existing monocultures must be connected if this fragmented district is to become a more cohesive fabric. Initial expansion of the public realm and of bicycle networks will help facilitate accessibility to each monoculture, incrementally stitching the fabric back together. A: Ferry Building B: SF MOMA C: Yerba Buena Gardens D: Metreon E: Moscone Center F: AT&T PARK G: CALTRAIN STATION

40% Pedestrian The pedestrian realm expands in this first four years by aggressively adding bicycle access and expanding sidewalks on one side of each targeted street. Reducing the dependency upon the automobile draws a forward-looking urban design. People are drawn to pedestrian-access only streets by pop-up markets, food carts, and public organization. Expanding public realm is met by implementation of urban ecology. Greater presence of human scaled, natural landscape facilitates urban rhythm and experience, making all areas of new SOMA to be equally as engaging.

SOMA’s new design must also accommodate for future monocultures. Pedestrian strategies that aim at creating a more humanistic urbanity will also help integrate each impending architectural addition. 2017: Completion of snøhetta & AECOM’s Warrior Stadium 2017: Completion of Phase I in Transbay Terminal Project, including 1 million square foot Transit Center, accommodating bus, retail, and future integration of Caltrain and High Speed Rail to LA


2032: Sidewalk strategies are applied to opposite areas of the streets, claiming the area as a pedestrian realm. Cars are omitted from the plan and function of service streets. Defined bicycle lanes complement the new streetcar lines that begin to shrink the fabric and create a slower rhythm.

2032: Auto traffic is now limited to two lanes, with one for dedicated transit. Accessibility and mass transit are given their own lanes to improve efficiency, without subjecting them to the traffic of auto lanes. Changing facades create a more dynamic relationship between built environment and pedestrian landscape. Programs begin to reflect the new urban condition. Community is able to form between businesses and people.

2032: Construction of the park on the northern block of Interstate 80 begins. Traffic will be rerouted underneath after its completion, as I-80 is removed from the urban fabric. The underbelly of the freeway is used for storage of construction equipment and trucks.


Two new streetcar lines begin serving the area, providing the framework for the future infrastructure. Streetcars carving through the fabric set a framework for future change to allow for the pedestrian network to become the central focus of the landscape. These areas will act as extensions of the park, providing pedestrian accessibility, urban ecology, and human scale to become major urban components. Existing bus routes, restructured for hierarchy, will work seamlessly with the two new streetcar lines to make the urban landscape smaller and more accessible.

40% Auto Auto traffic will reduce by 2032, as pedestrian access and multi-modal transit begin to take a stronghold on SOMA.

2032: AUTO, TRANSIT, BICYCLE INFRASTRUCTURE

Bike lanes are mirrored on major streets to provide two way traffic. The bicycle network begins to line every major street.

60% Pedestrian The restructuring of the public realm will become contextual evidence of the new definition of an urban landscape.

An engaging street realm facilitates future active streetscape, bolstering economic development of programs that are intrinsic to San Francisco. Programmatic shifts begin to transform this area from a light industrial district to a neighborhood. Accommodation for families through housing, education, recreational diversity and local private-sector growth will prepare this district for the future of urban living.


2047: New architecture is now reflective of the urban strategies that have been implemented over the past 34 years. It incorporates public space in its more porous facade systems, is lower in scale, and provides for great interaction of community.

Residential areas, mixed-use, and service industries are all combined in a manageable realm for a greater sense of polyculture, urban diversity, and experience.


90°

39°

29°

30’-0” boarding zone

50’-0” light post spacing; flood crosses over and illuminates more of the streetscape

22’-0”

32’-0”

private realm

private realm

porosity: setback + facade recede and reduce harsh edge condition

0° 5’-0” circulation

18’-0”

property line

public realm

6’ flex

4’ 3’ circ. trees

18’-0” public realm

4’ circ.

4’ 3’ circ. trees

11’-0” street car

6’-0” bike lane

2047 PLAN: PEDESTRIAN STREET (NTS)

16’-0” public realm

8’ circ.

3’-0” trees

5’-0” seating

11’-0”

street car

6’-0”

bike lane

3’-0” trees

8’-0” circulation

16’-0”

public realm

8’-0”

porosity

property line

10’-0” bike tent

2047: In section, pedestrian streets allow for a multitude of interactions. Business flex space, as well as ample circulation and separate seating areas create a more dynamic landscape. Spaces are designed large enough to accommodate for a myriad of uses. Street section not to scale.


2047: Auto thoroughfares are now accompanied by a more versatile architectural form. Ground floors offer more transparent and diverse uses, making the city a greater place to explore and learn from. Street trees have now grown to a degree that allows the built environment to be softened by urban ecology. Even auto streets have a development that is similar to pedestrian streets, so that division in the fabric remains as minimal as possible.


90° 65°

50’-0” light post spacing; flood crosses over and illuminates more of the streetscape

43°

55’-0”

porosity: setback + facade recede and reduce harsh edge condition

75’-0”

private realm

private realm

pedestrian + bike access only street

smaller spread trees to break down rhythm (linden, fern pine, small leaf tristania)

0° 5’-0” 10’-0” seating circulation

18’-0”

15’-0” O.C.

public realm

tree spacing

3’-0” trees

3’-0” 8’-0” trees circulation

8’-0” 11’-0”

bike lane

bus lane

11’-0”

auto lane

11’-0” 8’-0”

auto lane

bike lane

7’-0” café

18’-0”

public realm

2047: Auto streets are made less severe because of their new transportation division, while bicycle-access only streets branch off to create a more interwoven fabric. Street section not to scale.

6’ flex

9’ circulation

3’ trees

3’ trees

15’ circulation

18’-0”

8’-0”

11’-0”

11’-0”

11’-0”

8’-0”

18’-0”

public realm

bike lane

auto lane

auto lane

bus lane

bike lane

public realm

2047 PLAN: AUTO THOROUGHFARE (NTS)


2047: The previous site of Interstate 80, park edge streets are now lower scale and much more pleasant to pedestrian experience because of their access to green space, light, urban ecology, and livability. Traffic headed northbound up 101 and the Central Freeway are then rerouted under the completed park, removed from the urban experience for much of SOMA. Traffic then reconnects with the Bay Bridge from a tunnel, creating a seamless transition to the East Bay.


90°

60°

42°

45’-0” private realm

50’-0” o.c. spacing

min. 25% porosity on base edge condition

15’-0” public realm

18’-0”

smaller spread trees to break down rhythm (linden, fern pine, small leaf tristania)

public realm

6’ 9’ 3’ flex circ. tree

18’-0” public realm

2047 PLAN: PARK EDGE (NTS)

3’ tree

15’ circ.

8’-0” 11’-0” 11’-0” 11’-0” 8’-0” 18’-0” bike auto auto bus bike public lane lane lane lane lane realm

3’-0” trees

5’-0” 3’-0” seating trees

10’-0” public realm

11’-0”

6’-0”

18’-0”

street car

bike lane

public realm

2047: Park edge streets are transit and pedestrian access only to mitigate the harsh edge condition that plagues Golden Gate Park. This creates a more porous fabric for users, and one that offers greater individual experience. Use becomes even more diverse as polycultural architecture can interface with open green space. The Park, identified for the direction of this thesis as Nexus Park, is able to act as a connection of monocultures through community gathering and much needed density reprieve. Street section not to scale.


2047: AUTO, TRANSIT, BICYCLE INFRASTRUCTURE Streetcars will connect the existing, proposed, and possible future development. The new lines will create an urban rhythm, where traffic is slowed and the pedestrian relationship to transit is more natural. 3 streetcar lines will alleviate transportation burdens and act as major components of the larger system. Once the third streetcar is implemented, the original bus routes will be reworked into a grander scheme that will have more seamless integration of working hours, service areas, and diversity of transit means when people are traversing the landscape. Through 2047, the original transit structure will remain the same. Nexus Park will provide reprieve, breaking down density and granting a human scale to the surrounding environment. SOMA will be connected to the larger San Francisco as it mirrors Golden Gate Park.

A bicycle network that blankets SOMA allows for great accessibility for its residents and people outside of the district. Multi-modal transit is now a possibility because of the bike lane’s coverage where mass transit does not directly reach. SOMA can now be a liaison between the financial district and Mission Bay, connecting larger swaths of heavily divided areas of the eastern edge of the city.

After 2047: In place of the now-removed I-80 overpass, a new platting of smaller parcels will allow human scaled development to proliferate, while reducing future possibility for skyscraper transformation. New platting will be much more porous for connection to the park, while interior edges will be areas for urban ecology. This will be the reference for future block development. By 2047, I-80 will reach 100 years old and be in need of either being demolished or heavily retrofitted. The tunnel under Nexus Park will reroute traffic and create opportunity for redevelopment above. Traffic will be absent from the fabric and will no longer be a divisive barrier. 25% Auto Auto access will decrease to its lowest level, where large thoroughfares will reduce to two lanes of traffic, complemented by multi-modal transit. Street parking will be removed and will depend upon either parking outside of this area in existing infrastructure or below grade. Northbound traffic area where Central Freeway and I-101 are rerouted into underground tunnel, emerge to connect to the Bay Bridge.

75% Pedestrian By 2047, the pedestrian network consumes three quarters of the streetscape. This ultimately provides for a greater human experience, more active and engaging urban landscape, and a pedestrian urbanity that creates a more dynamic city.

After the Transbay Terminal is completed as a major transportation hub, its large scale will be transitioned into the rest of the urban fabric through pedestrian strategies, and sky exposure plane limitations. By 2047, SOMA will become a model neighborhood that can help address diversity of use, as well as accommodating for urban density, and progressive design for future urban demands. Complementing the pedestrian urban strategies will be a polycultural landscape, including necessary communal institutions such as schools, recreation, and other neighborhood services. In creating a new SOMA, where light industry can meet neighborhood amenities, the pedestrian urbanity can become a more humanistic model of dense living.


ity un mm s co sines bu

lic ub

p

use ed mix od rho hbo ial ublic p neig merc m o c

.R.

S.L

n ntow

dow e offic

l: rcia fice me n of com ntow w o d

.

C.B

blic D. .T. N.C

pu

T.D .C.

N

l t - ntia ligh side e / l / re ic v ser ustria ind

lic

pub

AN CIA LD

uth So rk Pa

lntia l ia ide res merc com bined com

id

res

bay nt sion me mis velop ential e red : resid n la p

p

lo eve red l ay n b ntia sio eside is m n: r pla ice

off

nt me

MA

SO

l t ligh ustria ind

l

ia ent

l

ntia

ide

res

Y BA

ial ed str du mix t In MA igh SO : /L use rvice Se

pub

2013

l t ligh ustria ind

N IO

lic

pub

FIN

om ed l-c ntia bin ide com res rcial me trict dis

nity mu com ess in bus nide res comtial- ial rc me bined com ict distr L.I.

lic

n tow l wn tia Do siden Re

nity mu com iness bus

SS MI

n

ntow dow e offic

l: rcia me n com ntow dow ice ff do

bay nt sion me mis velop ential e d sid e r : re plan

T

lntia l com ia ide res merc com od rho hbo ial ig ne merc ublic p com

od rho hbo ial neig merc m o c rict dist

IST RIC

ict istr dd use ed mix

e bin

ice t off ligh e/ l/ vic ser ustria ial ind ident res

.R. .R. S.L h S.L ut So rk . Pa .C.D N N. C. N. .R. T. C. S.L D. T. l t D. ligh ustria ind N. C. T. D.

NORTH

od rho hbo ial neig merc trict com sit dis tran

ity un mm s co sines bu

2047

R.

D.

n tow l wn tia Do siden Re

nity mu com iness bus

BEACH

2047: A zoning map now reflects the greater direction of the urban plan. A lattice-work of uses creates a more diverse zoning and a more vibrant district. Nexus Park’s consumption of an entire row of blocks redefines the area entirely, as transportation interfaces with the newly available green space. The landscape is broken down into a human scale and rhythm, allowing SOMA to become the neighborhood that the San Francisco Comprehensive Plan aims for.

l t ligh ustria ind


“Transport, then, is distinguished not by the employment of mechanical means but by the dissolution of the intimate bond that, in wayfaring, couples locomotion and perception” -Tim Ingold, “Lines : A Brief History”


A Great Street Should: _ Help Make Community _ Be Physically Comfortable and Safe _ Encourage Participation _ Be Remembered _ Be Representative alan b. jacobs, great streets

[re] structuring the public realm  

a selection from an m. arch thesis

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you