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Dan Sullivan

10 neighbors want Understory – an educational safety net that catches falling Western Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars on Market Street.

Cities are natural habitats, and our own Market Street is no exception! The London Plane Trees, tall buildings, warm climate, and dappled sunlight make it the ideal home for the Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. This beautiful insect carries out its entire lifecycle along the bustle of Muni, cars, bicycles and pedestrians. There is one problem: in its caterpillar stage, this beauty falls out of the trees and lands among the oblivious feet of San Francisco commuters. Most caterpillars don’t make it.

So what if we could “catch” their fall? And what if, in the process, we could slow people down, to appreciate the phenomenon just above their heads?

We propose a prototype that creates a third, hybrid space along Market Street. This prototype is an intersection of ecology and city — uniting butterfly ecology with human observation and discovery. 

The Swallowtail Station has a rigid framework supported independently within the London Plane Tree canopy. Layers of mesh, at varying densities, are stretched within the canopy and form surface dense enough to catch caterpillars. The mesh allows dappled light to extend to the ground plane. Hanging from the framework is a dense matrix of fine, plastic tubing. Void space within the mass of tubing creates a clearing for people to view up into the canopy, read interpretive elements about the butterfly and its lifecycle, and—at night—be surrounded by the glow from light tubing. 

With whimsy, and lightness of materials, pedestrians will pause and learn about ecology in the City.

SITELAB + Nature in the City specialize in reaching out and listening to people. We believe that the best and most beloved designs stem from the people who will use them, shape them, on a daily basis. It has been rewarding to contribute to the MSP process already — this is how the SITELAB + Nature in the City collaboration was formed — and we will continue to engage with the MSP public process, to develop our concept with the MSP advisors and the local community.

Our team can also help gain awareness about Market Street Prototyping in the City. We have multiple multiple venues identified for reaching out including: news announcements, AIA San Francisco, SPUR newsletter, Nature in the City newsletter, Science Saturday (partnership with, Presidio Trust, Tree Frog Treks, and Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.

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If you like this idea, "me too" it to stay updated on it's progress. Feel free to share your insights in the "How can you help?" section. If you'd like to get involved with this project, let us know. You can fill out a volunteer form to help with the overall festival here.

Supporters All

Market Street Prototyping Festival
Sahiti Karempudi
Ginamarie Gianandrea
Jasmine Friedrich
Tom K.
M. Williams


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Groundplay: The evolution of tactical urbanism
Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 6:00pm - 9pm
Exploratorium Observatory, Pier 15 (RSVP required)

Introducing Groundplay -- join us in celebrating the launch of San Francisco Planning’s Groundplay program at the Exploratorium on March 22nd at 6pm as part of their Conversations About Landscape speaker series. Pavement to Parks is merging with Living Innovation Zones and the Market Street Prototyping Festival into one citywide program called Groundplay.

Panelists include Deborah Cullinan, CEO of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Katy Tang, San Francisco Supervisor for District 4, Shawn Lani, Studio Director of Studio for Public Spaces at Exploratorium, and will be moderated by Kay Cheng and Ilaria Salvadori of City Design Group, San Francisco Planning Department.

RSVP to attend:

Who Went?

Danielle Rose
Erik Schmitt
Hunter Franks
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Happy Hour Q&A
Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 4:00pm - 7:00pm
The Hall, 1028 Market Street, San Francisco, CA

Join us for a Happy Hour Q&A at The Hall! Come meet and mingle with the MSPF team and get a chance to discuss any questions you might have about your project submissions and ideas. The MSPF Open Call for new projects for our 2016 festival is open until Apr 15. We’ll also be joined by some of last year’s participants who can share their experiences. Bring your friends and prototype ideas and we’ll see you there!

Open Call info:

Who Went?

Sean Stevens
Tom K.
Market Street Prototyping Festival
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Market Street Prototyping Festival

Calling all Bay Area citizens! MSPF is now accepting new project applications for our 2016 festival! Do you have an idea to make Market Street a more vibrant public space? We want to hear about it, submissions accepted now thru Apr 15.

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Posted Mar 2, 2016
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Market Street Prototyping Festival

Here's an in depth analysis of the 2015 festival from Gehl Studio San Francisco. "Makers on Market" summarizes key findings and insights from the Festival, identifies prototypes with potential of influencing the design of Market Street, and outlines a framework for using prototyping events as a way to engage members of the public in finding solutions to public challenges.

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Posted Sep 15, 2015
Oct 3, 2017

Updated link:

Posted by Dan on Oct 3, 2017
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MSPF Community Meeting: Select 10 projects for incubation
Thursday, September 3, 2015, 5:00pm - 7pm
Center for New Music, 55 Taylor Street, SF CA 94102

Our work depends on you! YBCA values our community partners as primary stakeholders as we evolve and grow together. We believe that nurturing and deepening mutually-beneficial relationships with community based organizations, nonprofits, schools, local businesses, artists and creative problem-solvers is key to our interdependent success.

Join us! Participate in the process to select the 10 most successful prototypes--emerging from the pilot festival--for incubation. Together, we will identify the most forward-thinking, diverse citizen-driven solutions for re-energizing Market Street.

You can see the projects that participated in the April 2015 festival here:

Who Went?

Tom K.
Market Street Prototyping Festival
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Market Street Prototyping Festival

Here are a few thoughts on the festival from the team at Neighborland -


Market Street Prototyping Festival — The Neighborland

Tens of thousands of people travel down Market Street in San Francisco every day. Most of us simply mind our own busines…

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Posted Jul 29, 2015
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Market Street Prototyping Festival
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 9:00am
Market Street between Embarcedero and Van Ness

An open call for creative ways to improve Market Street yielded hundreds of submissions from citizens and organizations. Fifty of these submissions were chosen to create rough models, or “prototypes”, that demonstrate how their idea would work. From April 9th - 11th, Market Street will come alive with these ideas. Its wide sidewalks will be filled with temporary installations ranging from performances spaces, relaxation zones, dynamic art pieces, and more.

Come and walk the festival route, check out the installations, and tell us what you think. A selection of these designs will then move from prototype to reality, as part of our city’s Better Market Street initiative.

Who Went? (51)

Steven Kahlich
Susie McKinnon
Max Hawkins
Melody Villavicencio
Cheyenne Maples
Tom K.
Dan Sullivan
Alvin Shiu
Garen Gary Srapyan
Paul Pillitteri
Timber Valley
Galen Maloney
Maria Judice
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Market Street Prototyping Festival

Butterflies Set to Take Over Market Street for a Few Days

The Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly is all around us in San Francisco. The butterflies can live their entire lives in the city, which is an ideal habitat thanks to its...

Posted Jan 23, 2015
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Market Street Prototyping Festival Design Charrette
Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 11:00am - 2pm
The Village, 969 Market Street, San Francisco, CA

Please join our 50 design teams as they share their latest designs on how to make Market Street a more connected and vibrant street. Share your insights with the project designers, and learn more about how to get engaged in the festival this April. We want to hear your feedback - it's important for our designers to understand what works and what doesn't work for residents. This event is free and open to the public.

Learn more -
More about the village at 969 Market -

Who Went?

Ashley Newton
Ruby Chen
Clare Hart-Slattery
Kristy Hilands
Jan 23, 2015

Thanks to all of the design teams for presenting your work in progress. I posted a few pictures here -

Posted by Dan on Jan 23, 2015
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Joseph Thomas

In addition to the Western Swallowtail, my project would attract our old friends the Monarch and Viceroy, as well as the Pipevine Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail, Propertius Duskywing, Fiery Skipper, Sara Orangetip, Echo Azure, Calliope Fritillary, Lorain's Admiral, California Sister, Satyr Comma, West Coast Lady, Woodland Skipper, Pale Swallowtail, Perplexing Hairstreak, and maybe even a Mormon Metalmark!

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Posted Nov 15, 2014
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