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Grad Students Look Under the Freeway, See the Future

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For nearly forty years San Francisco-based SWA Group, the global landscape architecture and design firm, has conducted a summer intern program where graduate students work for four weeks on a specific design problem. This year, in partnership with the San Francisco Planning Department, the focus was creating an "Eco District" in the Central Corridor, in an area better known to most of us as the stretch of parking lots under the rebuilt approach to the Bay Bridge from 3rd to 5th Streets. From SWA Group partner Rene Bihan:

The Eco District aspect of San Francisco's Central Corridor is precisely why SWA's SF Summer Intern studio is taking this significant issue on. Eco Districts are 100% within the realm of landscape architecture. Billions will be spent on the development of Eco Districts and what exactly will all this stuff look and feel like? It will be public money, public infrastructure and public space. It's a design problem, and we are going to tackle real solutions.Being graduate students, the results range from very specific to hypothetical, but all touch on the idea of a "resilient city" with water management, recycling and public space, adapting what has been built to the needs of the future.
Two of the most interesting– in part because they're the most specific– are Jihee Chung's redevelopment under the freeway and Tim Campbell's rising above it. Reclaiming storm water runoff from the freeway above, Chung put together a series of public spaces and landscape, along with bioswales to process the water runoff for use in irrigation and fountains. There are also cleverly designed, flexible-use kiosks.

Campbell moved the entrance and exit ramps at 5th Street under a platform and topped it with a hill of caged concrete rubble where the 101 and 80 go in different directions. Public amenities– an electric car charging station, a cafe and a skateboard park are there as well. Check out the results in the gallery. Not only do the students get to work under the guidance of professionals and with the city employees who actually make things happen, the intern program provides SWA with a way of identifying talented future employees.
· Projects [SWA Group]