HOK San Francisco, like all HOK offices worldwide, is committed to being an active role player in uplifting, energizing and reshaping its community for the better. One of our notable efforts in recent months, as part of the Architecture and the City Festival held in September 2010, has been to examine the slow deterioration and eventual blight of the Mid Market region of the city of San Francisco, and to identify possible small-scale solutions for this malaise.
Identified as the stretch of Market Street bounded by 5th and 10th streets, Mid Market is presently characterized by the downed shutters of failed businesses, a large homeless population, litter on the streets, drug-peddling, graffiti (not all bad!) and generally unsafe and unsanitary conditions on the street – all of these the ramifications of many unfortunate events and decisions over the course of a few decades.
Spearheaded by HOK, and with the commitment and expertise of several partners, most notably the CMCBD (Central Market Community Benefit District), AIA SF, Public Architecture and WSP Flack + Kurtz Built Ecology, this 8-week charette began by identifying the problems that plague Mid Market today, and an agreement that all solutions conform to the principles of being actionable, sustainable, scalable and realistic. With this in mind, the team brainstormed and arrived at a simple adaptive reuse solution: a humble kiosk. Originally built to house newspaper vendors, these kiosks, located on the corner of most intersections along Market Street, fell to disuse as the internet edged out the newspaper, moving towards a paperless medium.
The plan was to repurpose these kiosks for a number of modern applications – possible ideas listed were: an anchor for food trucks, an artist in residence booth, a ticket kiosk, a bicycle repair shop, a wifi hub, a vanity station for the homeless, toilets and a display of central market history. Of these, the first four ideas were deemed actionable and captured in a graphic format.
The next step was to establish contact with parties who would be interested in furthering this idea as our partners, and could invest in, or benefit from the idea – while being a part of the renewal of the Mid Market district. The team contacted bicycle repair shops, food trucks, theater owners in the area (for the ticketing kiosk), and also heard from the Arts Commission of San Francisco. These individuals were equally excited about the idea, and willingly bought in to the concept with some valuable feedback!
The culmination of the charette was to present these ideas to the public. Invitations were sent out to the community through the mailing lists of the AIA, HOK SF and CMCBD, and also posted on local San Francisco real estate sites.The presentation was held on October 13th, 2010, and there was a sizable turnout of business owners, homeowners and organizations from the Central Market area. The ideas were very well received and the team was able to gain some more contacts from the audience present that night.
Next Steps: With the established buy-in from several business owners and support from various city offices, the team is currently engaged in actualizing the kiosk ideas. Some ideas need clearance from city officials, while others could be implemented within the next few months! At this point, the team solicits feedback and information from readers that would be helpful in achieving the goals outlined above.
This quote from Margaret Mead, who extols the power of positive thinking and small steps, is a fitting conclusion: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has!”
Click through to view a PDF of the Presentation Powerpoint (2.9 MB File will download):