The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza (FHMP), in collaboration with the American Institute of Architects San Francisco (AIASF), have announced the design team led by Perkins Eastman as the winner of a competition to reimagine San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza.
Harvey Milk Plaza is situated at the entrance of the Castro Street Muni Station, which was built in 1980. In 1985, the plaza area was named in honor of the civil rights activist and elected official Harvey Milk, who lived and worked on Castro Street before he and then-Mayor George Moscone were both assassinated in 1978. Harvey led soapbox political rallies at the plaza which has since been used as a gathering place for community protests and celebrations. The site serves hundreds of commuters daily, as well as thousands of tourists who come through the transit station on their way to visiting the famous neighborhood.
The announcement marks the end of the design competition phase for Harvey Milk Plaza. The competition was initiated after two community meetings held by the FHMP in January 2017, where public input about the potential future of the plaza generated a competition brief. The design brief was distributed in collaboration with AIASF when competition officially opened March of 2017. By the end of the competition period on May 31st, 2017, 33 entries had been submitted from the Bay Area, Canada, Sweden and one from Mobile, Alabama. A design jury of City officials, nationally-renowned architects and landscape architects selected three finalists. FHMP selected the winner with input from the design jury and technical staff from various government agencies.
“While each of the three finalists delivered wonderful concepts for the future plaza, what set the submission from Perkins Eastman apart was their bold, immersive idea; passion for Harvey’s message; and willingness to iterate the design based on feedback during the competition process. We are excited to continue the design process with them and incorporate all the learning and input from the community to create a space that reflects the community’s values, including its love for Harvey and all that he stood for,” said Andrea Aiello, president of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and Executive Director of Castro Community Benefits District (CBD). “We envision a plaza that honors the contributions of Harvey Milk, and also inspires people to continue his mission.”
Community input Once three finalists had been identified, FHMP reached out to online platform Neighborland to host the community input initiative, which generated an overwhelming response. The Harvey Milk Plaza project received over 20,000 responses from 9,645 people who participated in the two-week long survey, ranking this project as the most heavily trafficked ever in Neighborland’s history.
“Once the competition got underway and we heard from the community, our own ideas and vision for the plaza expanded, and we now have even higher hopes for creating something that captures Harvey’s spirit and honors his contributions to the struggle for civil rights,” said Aiello. The list of jurors for the competition – as well as the group of individuals who are volunteering their time to FHMP – includes San Francisco citizens, business owners and City officials. Jurors included Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works, George Hargreaves of Hargreaves Associates, Jennifer Yoos of VJAA, San Francisco City Architect Edgar Lopez, Director of SF Planning John Rahaim, Chief of Park Development and Operations at The Presidio Trust Michael Boland and community member Gregg Cassin. As the project propels forward, FHMP is accepting applications from individuals who are interested in contributing professional services and support in generating fundraising for the project.
What’s Next In November, FHMP and Perkins Eastman will begin meeting to process information gathered and learned during the competition, and to continue development of the design proposal. Perkins Eastman will also begin to interface with SFMTA to coordinate with their planned accessibility upgrades project, which involves the installation of a new elevator connecting different levels of the transit station with the street; and to identify efficiencies between the two efforts. As with any project in its early stages, substantial changes to the design are expected based on more public feedback, technical, and engineering concerns. FHMP plans for future public meetings at various stages of design development.