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Design competition underway for underwhelming Harvey Milk Plaza

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"The sunken garden is such a disaster”

Photo by miss_millions

Armed with a bullhorn, civil rights icon Harvey Milk stood on the corner of Market and Castro in the 1970s to talk publicly about queer rights. The first openly gay male politician in California, his efforts paved the way for many LGBTQ ilk in public office.

His legacy has been honored with many tributes, but the aforementioned corner where he stood received the most baffling one—a dark, dank, sunken garden just outside the Muni station.

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"The sunken garden is such a disaster," says Andrea Aiello, chairperson of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and executive director of Castro/Upper Market CBD.

And with that, the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza, the American Institute of Architects San Francisco (AIASF), San Francisco Public Works, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), and the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) are holding a design competition for redesigning the plaza.

The plaza is a challenging space. Another challenge will be the voices and opinions sure to chip away at bold and innovative design. Too many bad cooks in the kitchen have ruined many inventive aesthetic decisions in SF.

Any new visual design in the city must filter through numerous groups and—far worse—personal tastes (or lack thereof). This video alone shows that there are already a lot of opinions as to what the plaza should be.

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That being said, this could and should be a wonderful addition to the area—an audacious, no-holds-barred focal point of the Castro and LGBTQ culture. The plaza today doesn’t feel like a plaza at all. Unwelcoming, to say the least.

Also of note, the design competition isn’t just local. “We hope to have the interest and participation of interdisciplinary design teams globally.,” says AIASF.

According to Streetsblog, an estimated $8 million will need to be raised in order to see the new plaza come to life.

The Harvey Milk Plaza Competition is open for submissions through May 31, 2017. Visit Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza for more information.

Harvey Milk Plaza

, San Francisco, ca 94114