Powell Street Promenade

Designer: Hood Design | City: San Francisco, CA | Project Type: promenade
Date Visited: 11.03.12

Location: Powell St and Ellis St San Francisco, CA 94101
Size: 2 city blocks
Cost: $890,000 construction cost
Official Opening Date: July 2011

The recent recipient of a 2012 ASLA General Design Honor Award, Hood Design’s Powell Street Promenade is located along a major thoroughfare in the heart of downtown San Francisco. This stretch that spans two city blocks is home to some of the “busiest pedestrian volumes in the country; some 100,000 people will typically travel through the area on foot on the weekends.” Leading up to the famous shopping destination of Union Square, Powell Street is a link between major cultural hubs, retail and restaurants, and important transportation connections, from buses and cable cars to the Muni train and BART.

In a private public non-profit venture between the city’s “Pavement to Parks” program, the Audi automobile company, and landscape architecture firm Hood Design, Powell Street Promenade became the design solution to not only bettering pedestrian circulation and overflow, but in creating an iconic downtown destination through a series of furnished parklets as well.

Considered the poster child of the city’s “Pavement to Parks” program, the Promenade consists of eight six-foot wide parklets—each an extension of the existing sidewalk—over the span of two city blocks. The installation replaced nearly 4,500 square feet of street parking with green, contemporary design and site furnishing such as LED lighting and photovoltaic towers.

The defining features of the Promenade are the series of modular aluminum ribbons, which were fitted together in clusters of varying widths and heights to create fabricated benches and tables. These strips of aluminum ribbon take on a sculptural element in the streetscape, subtly emerging from the sidewalk to create and connect benches to planters and rails to tables whilst making a strong statement about the transformative impact of beautiful, simple and functional design.

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