City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

May 20, 2013

Civic Design Review Committee - May 20, 2013


Monday, May 20, 2013
3:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70


Committee Chair Cass Calder Smith called the meeting to order at 3:03 p.m.

  1. Roll Call
    Commissioners Present

    Cass Calder Smith
    Leo Chow
    Dorka Keehn
    Roberto Ordeñana
    Kimberlee Stryker

    Commissioners Absent

    Staff Present
    Jill Manton, Director of Public Art Trust and Special Initiatives
    Sharon Page Ritchie, Commission Secretary
    Matthew Contos, Civic Design Review Intern

  2. Fire Station #16 Phase 2
    This item was withdrawn from the agenda.
  3. United States Postal Service GoPost Pilot Project: Phase 1
    Postmaster Raj Sanghera and James Wigdel appeared on behalf of the United States Postal Service (“USPS”), San Francisco.

    Ms. Sanghera introduced the USPS GoPost Project as an alternate method to send and receive parcels. Many European countries such as Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom are currently using the GoPost model. GoPost offers the convenience of a self-automated postal service, in which customers can send and receive packages 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    The structure consists of several lockers and an interactive touch-screen computer similar to an ATM machine. GoPost is 24 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9 feet high. The structure includes an awning with LED lighting, 24-hour security cameras and the design will include the standard postal service logo and color palette (red, white and blue). The paint will be graffiti-resistant to help minimize maintenance, and the GoPost design is in compliance with ADA policies. It is intended to be installed in public areas where it can be easily accessed by customers.

    Mr. Wigdel explained that the USPS has been working closely with Department of Public Works staff to determine the best location for GoPost. Potential sites under consideration include: Market and Drumm Streets and Hallidie Plaza. Commissioner Chow asked how the locations were determined. Nick Elsner, Department of Public Works, explained that Hallidie Plaza is ideal for foot traffic and public access. The structure is proposed to be installed on the street level adjacent to a bus stop. At the Market Street and Drumm Street location, the GoPost structure would be installed near Wells Fargo Bank.

    Commissioner Chow asked if the services are provided only by the Postal Service or by third-party companies as well. Ms. Sanghera responded that third-party shipping services, such as UPS and FedEx also provide delivery and pick up at the GoPost structure.

    Commissioner Chow asked why the USPS wished to install the GoPost structure on City property, rather than private property. Ms. Sanghera responded that on the East coast , GoPost units are installed in malls and other privately owned locations. They would like to extend the GoPost services to public spaces to increase accessibility. She added that the San Francisco GoPost project is a pilot program to determine whether working with the City is a good option.

    Commissioner Chow affirmed the benefit and value of the services offered by GoPost and the concept of the project. He added that the Civic Design Review committee focuses on design issues and the impact of architecture and structures on the look and experience of San Francisco. He said that the large size of the structure has the potential to obstruct the public right-of-way. He expressed his concerns with the pre-designed aesthetics of the structure and that the current design does not complement the proposed sites.

    Commissioner Smith asked whether other sites were considered. Mr. Elsner explained that they looked into areas around the Ferry Building and Pier 39, but those locations did not work out.

    Ms. Sanghera said that it may be possible to condense or modify the design.

    Commissioner Stryker asked whether they have explored private locations such as storefronts or lobbies, and she reiterated Commissioner Chow’s concern about obstructing the public right-of-way. Commissioner Stryker also pointed out that Hallidie Plaza will undergo significant redesign in the near future, and added that a permanent structure might create a conflict with the Street Artist spaces.

    Commissioner Keehn suggested that there has been little consideration given to the aesthetics of the design and the structure’s impact on the street. She thought that the current design would have a huge impact, given its scale and its unappealing design. She encouraged the project managers to consider the challenges of redesigning the structure as an opportunity to be innovative.

    Commissioner Chow asked about the design for the back of the structure. Mr. Wigdel stated that they have discussed the potential of donating the back of the structure to a local organization for painting murals or displaying temporary art.

    Commissioner Smith responded that displaying art in public space can be complicated as it requires curating, managing, and maintenance. He proposed that GoPost consider a design and/or location in which the back of the structure is not visible.

    Commissioner Chow asked whether they have considered other locations, such as BART stations, or other privately owned spaces that encounter heavy foot traffic.

    Commissioner Smith asked if smaller iterations of the structure have been designed. Mr. Wigdel explained that he had explored other size options, but that there is currently only one size available.

    Commissioner Smith suggested that the project managers refine the GoPost’s industrial design including the roof, the color palette, and other design details. He described the postal colors as non-innovative and suggested using more dynamic color schemes.

    Commissioner Chow requested photos of the structure installed at other sites, and more detailed images of the design. He was concerned about the scale of the structure, and called it a building: it is taller than a person, large both vertically and horizontally, and someone could hide behind it.

    Commissioner Smith opened the floor for public comment.

    Public Comment:
    Mr. Milo Hanke, past President of San Francisco Beautiful, expressed his agreement with the Commissioners’ comments. He said the design was a misfit for the street and would only add to the street clutter that the City is trying to reduce. He said that it takes away from the sense of place along Market Street and stated that there is no room in the public right-of-way for these structures. He cautioned the project managers about adding more structures to public space, as he anticipated that this would be met with negative reactions. He explained that the City is working to remove a lot of the clutter in public spaces, such as the newspaper stands. He recommended that USPS install the structures on private property and pay rent.

    Mr. Alex Walker of San Francisco Beautiful expressed his concern about the size of the structure, comparing it to the size of a storefront building. He also underscored the need for more public outreach to let the public share their thoughts. He said that he liked the functionality and convenience of the GoPost services, but he does not like the idea of adding more clutter to public spaces.

    Commissioner Smith offered that one or two of the Commissioners could work with the project managers to help them prepare for the Phase 1 review. Commissioner Smith added that the current design and state of the project need a lot of improvement and that an individual meeting would offer more time for detailed reflection and revisions. He reiterated that the aesthetic design, the location and the scale of the structure are the biggest concerns.

    Commissioner Keehn stated that the structure does not belong on public property and cannot move forward with Phase 1 at this point.

    No action was taken by the Committee.

  4. Mission Bay Park #26: Phase 1
    Catherine Reilly, Project Manager from the Commission on Community Innovation and Infrastructure, introduced the Mission Bay Park project and expressed her hope to fast-track final design and construction to enable the park to open in February 2015. The park will be located in front of the new UCSF Children’s Hospital in the south part of Mission Bay. Ms. Reilly described how the design centered on nature and is intended to preserve a nature-based theme in all elements of the park, which will be named Mariposa Park. She commented that this park’s revised design incorporates many of the features and characteristics that the Committee recommended during their review of Mission Bay Park #6.

    Landscape architect James Stickley of WRT stated that the park design intends to address the needs of the residents in Mission Bay, Potrero Hill and Dogpatch, as well as benefiting the adjacent Children’s Hospital and local businesses. He explained that they have received positive feedback from the businesses and community members in the area. A letter of support from UCSF was submitted for the public record.

    Commissioner Stryker asked for a further explanation about the children’s play area. She encouraged the designers to allow for the children’s play to include interaction with the environment, to add more richness to the play experience, and to use real butterfly habitat such as Buddleia plants to reinforce the theme of the park.

    Mr. Stickley reported on the community’s interest in a nature-based design. He described how the design of the park relates to the theme of metamorphosis: The children’s area references larval stages, the curved balance beams mimic the curves of butterfly wings, and the park will include educational facts about butterflies. Mr. Stickley added that they hope to create a butterfly habitat, but the area is subject to harsh winds that are not attractive to butterflies. He noted that informative plaques that educate visitors about butterflies and their habitat will be installed to help supplement the metamorphosis theme.

    Commissioner Stryker replied that some children are too young to read and that real butterflies would benefit the park and reinforce the theme.

    Mr. Stickley added that the area had previously been wetlands, and they are considering possibilities of reviving some of the former elements of that habitat. The design also considers the history of the site, including the former railyard now buried beneath rubble from the 1906 earthquake. He noted the abundance of fill dirt and the design team’s intention to use the excess fill to create sculptural landforms that enclose play areas and the plaza, and help to mitigate noise from the freeway.

    Commissioner Stryker inquired about flooding issues and the sea level of the park and expressed concern about the width of the sidewalks and the potential conflict between pedestrians and children.

    Landscape architect Laura Tepper of WRT confirmed that they are considering sea level rise and are still in the process of determining the potential effects it may have on the park.

    Commissioner Stryker also expressed her concern about the overlapping of bicycle and pedestrian traffic, and that the traffic on the path may be a safety concern.

    Ms. Tepper responded that the bike path will mostly be used by children, as there are paths nearby that cater to commuters and adult cyclists.

    Commissioner Chow added that there is a significant difference between how six-year-olds and twelve-year-olds use bike paths and suggested that the team consider ways to attend to the needs of a variety of ages. Commissioner Stryker suggested using multiple textures for the pavement on the path to delineate separate spaces for experienced and novice riders.

    Commissioner Chow stated his appreciation for the architectural elements and inquired about the placement of a crosswalk at Mariposa and Minnesota. Mr. Stickley indicated that there will be a crosswalk at that location.

    Commissioner Smith stated that the southern entry to the park should be as strong as the northern entry. He liked the manipulated topography, and he recommended moving the gabion walls away from the bike paths and providing more overall seating in the park.

    Commissioner Keehn asked about the inclusion of public art. Ms. Reilly responded that there is a public art fund with close to $1 million. She stated that her agency plans to work with the Arts Commission to develop an Arts Master Plan and ultimately select artists for project. Commissioner Keehn said that this should be done sooner, rather than later.

    Commissioner Smith opened the floor for public comment.

    Public Comment:
    Corinne Woods of the Mission Bay Citizens Advisory Committee expressed her excitement about the positive impacts the park will have on the surrounding areas. She also expressed her appreciation for the designers’ attention to the community’s needs and input.

    Melissa White, from the University of California at San Francisco, expressed her support for the park and stated that it will be a welcome improvement to the Mission Bay area.

    Commissioner Smith moved to approve Phase 1, and requested that when the team returns for Phase 2 review, they reconsider the safety components of the bike paths, diversify the landscaping and use of natural topography, and seek new ways to engage with children of a variety of ages.

    The motion was approved unanimously as follows.

    Motion to approve Mission Bay Park #26, Phase 1.

  5. Mission Bay Playground # 6: Phases 2 and 3
    Staff clarified that this project was in fact seeking approval for Phases 2 and 3, not 1 and 2.

    Cordelia Hill from Royston Hanamoto Alley and Abey acknowledged the team’s appreciation of the comments and recommendations made by the Committee at its April 15, 2013 meeting and stated that they have helped to move the project in a positive direction. A major concern articulated by the Committee was the lack of integration within the landscape design. She explained that the revised design features a dry creek stream bed as a unifying element that moves from the lime work on the plaza, up into the hill above park. The dry creek will be composed of cobbles, rock and plant materials, and will engage children in climbing and exploring. They have opened up the play areas, and reduced the size of the picnic areas.

    She discussed other changes to the design, including increased topography, raised mounds up to six feet high, the integration of mounds around the edges of the park and the incorporation of natural plantings which include seasonal and sensorial plants that add texture, color and will provide habitat and food for butterflies. She added that there will be activities for all ages and abilities. The fencing detail was also simplified per the recommendation of Commissioner Stryker, and there will be planting on both sides of the fence.

    Commissioner Stryker expressed her concerns about the redwood groves growing on such small mounds. Ms. Tepper responded that the tree type is one of the few that can tolerate the bay mud, and that in 20 years, the trees might grow to a height of 40 feet.

    Commissioner Stryker commented that the project had improved quite a bit.

    Public Comment:
    Corinne Woods spoke on behalf of Mission Bay Families. She stated that the park was desperately needed and it had been intensively studied. There were several community meetings held with both parents and children participating. She said that the community was outspoken and very passionate about play elements and the overall park. She said it was designed by them in a lot of ways and the community has a strong feeling of ownership.

    The motion was approved unanimously as follows.

    Motion to approve Mission Bay Playground #6, Phases 2 and 3.

  6. 1550 Evans Street/SFPUC: Phase 1
    Project Manager Shelby Campbell explained that the impetus for this project was to provide lockers and showers for the Clean Water Field Crew. She explained that they must vacate their current location. The new addition to the building will be a two-story, 6,330-square-foot building with a bridge connecting the new building to the old on the second level. The open landscaping and courtyard would be maintained as it is an important open space for the workers to gather.

    Mike Pierron, DPW Project Architect, oriented the Committee as to the project site. It is located on 3rd at Evans, next to Heron Head Park. It is an industrial port zone. The overall property was recently purchased by the SFPUC and is located very close to the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant. It is the beginning of the Third Street commercial district.

    The site contains a parking lot, a warehouse shed that is in poor condition, and an existing office building with circa-1970s lodge-style architecture with a glass atrium, the windows on long axis and a strong Evans Street presence. The Planning Code protects the “Industrial Park” sign, the berm and trees. Setbacks force the entrance inside the site.

    The architects explored several different options for the placement of the addition. They were trying to work within the existing module concept. Their preferred option was to place the new addition adjacent to Third Street and provide a filtered urban presence on Third St. The first floor is multi-purpose, containing lockers and showers for the workers. The new building design would provide a two-way entry for staff and office use.

    Edward Chin, DPW Landscape Architect, stated that he tried to maintain the view from the parking lot to the green lawn and mature trees. The deficiency is that the green space is immediately adjacent to the parking lot. It does not allow for anysense of entrance to garden space. In considering the siting of the building, they tried to create a forecourt for people coming from the parking lot, and maintain a dynamic path of travel to the main court. The plan calls for retaining two trees and approximately half of the lawn. They plan to create a sustainable landscape using permeable paving and native planting. The outdoor space serves as a flexible multi-use space for the staff. They plan to add more hardscape to create a more usable outdoor space.

    Commissioner Keehn asked about the significance of the bridge.

    Mr. Pierron, Project Architect, explained that the bridge allows both buildings to have access to the elevator. He explained that if they added in a new elevator in the new building, the structure would be categorized as a standalone building, which would legally require the construction of more bathrooms and greatly increase its cost.

    Commissioner Smith commented that that the building should be a different shape to better fit the geometry of the location, and that the building should be unlike the others. He saw this as a creative opportunity which could be more interesting than simply adding onto the existing structures. He also commented that the locker and shower area in the floor plan were very linear and they could be altered to open up more space.

    Commissioner Stryker suggested the possibility of making the building longerand narrower to better relate to the courtyard.

    Commissioner Chow commented that he recognizes the challenge of creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing building, but he challenged the team to embrace the potential for creating a unique design. He stated that the functionality seems to be working, but the design components need more attention.

    Landscape architect Edward Chin explained that elongating the building would require removing the existing trees alone the fence line.

    Commissioner Smith suggested that they set up a few workshop/design charette meetings with one or two of the Commissioners before the next Civic Design Review meeting to resolve some of the current issues with the design.

    Commissioner Chow recommended that the team refer to the Port of Oakland Control Truck building and Sunol Yard as good examples of exceptional architectural design without compromising the functionality of the structure.

    There was no public comment, and the Committee took no action.

  7. Twin Peaks Reservoir: Phase 3
    Kent Ford, Project Architect, introduced the design for the fences around the reservoir. Although the project had already received Phase 3 approval, the Environmental Design staff at the Planning Department had requested some changes to the fence design and Mr. Ford was thus returning to the Committee. He showed the previously approved design and the later design from Planning. He explained that Planning wished to maintain some elements of the original fence bcause it was a historic resource. Commissioner Chow commented that if the fence was not landmarked, then no mitigation should be required. Mr. Ford stated that the fence will be painted black and the pickets will be rotated 45 degrees partway up to match the historic aesthetic.

    Commissioner Smith moved to affirm the previous approval of Twin Peaks Reservoir, Phase 3, as originally approved.

    Commissioner Stryker left the meeting at 5:57 p.m.

    The motion was approved unanimously as follows.

    Motion to affirm the previous approval of Twin Peaks Reservoir, Phase 3, as originally approved October 15, 2012.

  8. Public Comment
    There was no further public comment.
  9. New Business and Announcements
    Ms. Manton discussed the amount of time the Commissioners wished to recommend for each presentation. They responded that ten minutes should be sufficient and asked staff to inform future presenters of the need to be as succinct as possible.

    There was no public comment.

  10. Adjournment
    There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

    spr 7/8/13

    Language Accessibility

    Translated written materials and interpretation services are available to you at no cost. For assistance, please notify Director of Special Projects and Civic Design Review Program Manager Jill Manton, 415-252-2585,

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    Materiales traducidos y servicios de interpretación están disponibles para usted de manera gratuita. Para asistencia, notifique a Director of Special Projects and Civic Design Review Program Manager Jill Manton, 415-252-2585,