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Kuth Ranieri Architects

Harvey Milk Plaza will serve as a welcoming door to the city’s historic Castro District and a destination to learn about the life (and times) of Harvey Milk. We envision the Plaza as an unified and integrated experiential memorial to inspire generations to come. The proposal constists of a new street level plaza incorporating a panelized ribbon of fluid visual content, a commemorative gesture that evokes the memory of Harvey Milk’s life and extends beyond the boundaries of the plaza to create a new gateway to the Castro. The new Harvey Milk Plaza will be a welcoming place and safe destination where people gather, learn and share in an enduring sense of “home.”

Strategically positioned throughout the space are art interventions that offer points of discovery as people move through the plaza on the way to Muni, gather to have coffee, or simply visit the plaza to experience the memorial. The contiguous ribbon of filmic content touches all programs of the plaza and transforms from: bus canopy to elevator enclosure, interpretive entry wall, and entry archway to the public transit. Abstracted photographic imagery of the candle light vigil is embossed into the metal ribbon forming a textural skin. Several civic scaled “hero images” mark key moments in Harvey Milk’s life and are imbedded in the surface of the ribbon at strategic points. At sundown, the Plaza is illuminated by a sprinkling of lights to create a safe night-life experience.

The art component incorporates a series of cast glass pink triangles, a reclaimed international symbol of the gay rights movement. A new elevated triangular platform at the center of the plaza serves as a soap box for future social political gatherings. This sculptural platform also functions as a triangular oculus to the subterranean level with the Harvey Milk quote “Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard” etched into the glass. There are five additional sculptural cast glass “pink triangles” imbedded into the pavement of the plaza. Each one is associated with an entry to the plaza. A short poetic film like strip, of visual content tells the story of Harvey Milk in two locations: on the plaza level an educational wall etched in stone, and on the lower level of the Muni station imbedded in the metal ribbon. These photographs will memorialize the social and political history of Harvey Milk.

Promoting connectivity and place is a key driver of our design proposal and expands the usable area of the plaza to provide new pathways that connect to Market, Castro and Collingwood Streets. A space for a coffee cart or food truck is located at the western edge of the plaza, as well as a new accessible public sidewalk along the southern edge of the plaza provides an unencumbered pathway to Castro Street. A new well-lit bus stop at Market is marked by a bench and canopy along the widened sidewalk with direct access to the central area of the Plaza via staircase and an elevator stop.

Kuth Ranieri Architects
rhaa Landscape Architecture and Planning
Catherine Wagner Studio


Aerial and Site Plan
The new plan is designed to activate the plaza and provides a safe space to congregate in this commemorative urban destination.  The multiple entry points and an expanded plaza offer ease of movement and space for gatherings and events. Woven throughout the plaza is a memorial ribbon that honors the life of Harvey Milk, connecting all the programs and elements of the plaza.  In addition to the ribbon, cast glass pink triangles are placed at entry points and mark the center of the plaza.

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Material and Art Location Diagrams
This plaza is an integrated art experience constructed of honorific and durable materials to assure the longevity of this public memorial space. Heroic images that recall the life and times of Harvey Milk are integrated into the ribbon. An abstract pattern of the candlelight vigil as well as educational material are strategically located throughout the plaza.

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Entry Rendering
The entry portal becomes a gate to the neighborhood, the plaza, the memorial, and the Muni station. At the corner of Castro and Market, a welcome wall includes signage and interpretive information to learn about Harvey Milk and the movement he led.  Flying high over the plaza, the flag is a central focus to the new elements and experiences of the space.

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Underground Rendering
Upon entering the station, commuters encounter Harvey daily and are reminded of how far we have come.  As a tourist, one can learn about Harvey Milk’s story and experience the exact place where civil rights were fought for.  The skylight above also serves as a soapbox and connects the plaza level to the transit level casting a pink light triangle with the phrase, ‘rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.

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Plaza Rendering
Hero images of Harvey are embedded into the metal ribbon and visible from multiple locations.  These give Harvey Milk a significant presence within the plaza and stand as a reminder of the history and struggle for civil rights.  A cast glass triangle soap box sits as a permanent podium, inviting a new generation of activists to speak.

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Stair and Elevated Plaza Rendering
The size of the plaza is expanded to create more space for gatherings. A new grand stair serves both as an informal amphitheater as well as access to the upper plaza, where food and coffee trucks activate the new space; extending the usability of the plaza for congregation and contemplation.

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Survey charts

This design concept properly honors Harvey Milk and the civil rights movement, inspiring visitors to learn more.

This plaza design concept provides a great urban transit station which manages pedestrian flow well and allows easy access to public transit.

This plaza design concept supports public gatherings for celebration and protest.

This plaza design concept is innovative and inspiring; it creates a new San Francisco destination for out-of-town visitors.

This is a public space that I would visit and use myself, beyond simply using it as a transit station.

This design solves most of the problems that are present in the current plaza.