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Ferry Building Brainstorm: Floating Gardens, Trees and More Vendors

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The Ferry Building has become a shining example of successful adaptive reuse ever since it was turned into a bustling foodie marketplace, but the vast gray space behind it is said to reflect San Francisco's ongoing challenge in reengaging its waterfront. As part of the Architecture and the City Festival, an urban power team made up of SPUR, GOOD magazine, AIA SF, and CEO for Cities hosted a powwow last night where they stuck city groups and idealistic designers together in a room to see if intractable problems could be solved in a couple hours. Easy peasy, right? The proposal above, for a flexible and greened space behind the Ferry Building, is inspired by ancient Greek agoras and is the brainchild of Surfacedesign, Inc.

Mobile, collapsing kiosks would bring vendors in to keep the space active during off-market days, and large planters with trees and "floating gardens" would tickle the water's edge. When brought up to discuss the design, a partner from Ferry Building developers Wilson Meany Sullivan wasn't so sure about the viability of the floating gardens, but he raved about everything else: the mobile kiosks ensure the space can be kept open for other uses, while the trees bring life to the water's edge without impeding views of the bay— not to mention add more space for sitting (or making out, as the case may be).

While the designs were all purely a collective exercise in the so-called power of "design," above design included, GOOD magazine notes that some of their forced collaborations down in L.A. have unexpectedly begun to bear fruit.