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Here’s what the new Civic Center may look like

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Three designs go before Planning Commission, but the final decision is a long way off

Today, a San Francisco Planning Commission hearing will consider three potential redesigns of the city’s Civic Center; however, no the final decision about what the overhaul of our storied but beleaguered public space will look like is far to come.

Thursday’s meeting is another small step in a long process that may yield a new look and function for the area immediately east of City Hall, which the city has turned a critical eye on in recent years.

In January of 2017, the administration of the late Mayor Ed Lee dubbed Civic Center’s current look “stripped” and “unwelcoming,” noting that design features meant to discourage homeless people from taking up residence in the area had created a generally hostile environment.

The three broad plans coming up today (each developed by San Francisco-based CMG Landscape Architecture) are some of the first yield from the city’s 2017 solicitation for bids on what to potentially do with the space.

Under the current timeline, the city will not adopt an official plan until fall of 2020, with environmental analysis set to start later this year. So, polish up that crystal ball and gaze into these three potential futures, each based on a different, broad mission statement:

  • Civic Sanctuary: “A vision for a 21st-century commons that celebrates history: strict rows of trees that frame the public spaces and a defined central spine from Market Street to City Hall recall the formality of the historic Beaux-Arts plan, while contemporary uses and amenities celebrate civic life, work and SF history.”
  • The Culture Connector: “A vision for an inclusive commons that prioritizes ecology, wellness, and variety, an expansive tree canopy loosely frames a civic promenade from Market Street to City Hall and provides a variety of settings for art, commerce, and play.”
  • The Public Platform: “A vision for a 21st-century commons centered on performance: flexible plazas—stages for public life to unfold and support a diversity of activities—are framed by trees, planting, and sloped lawns and bleacher seats that create places to see and be seen.”

The Planning Commission convenes at City Hall, Room 400, at 1 p.m. to discuss.

More information on the submitted designs is available in the meeting agenda packet.