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Walter Hood, MacArthur ‘genius’ grant winner, to design new Yerba Buena Island park

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Smack dab in the middle of the bay

Views from Hilltop Park, designed by Walter Hood of Hood Design Studio.
Rendering by Hayes Davidson

Yerba Buena Island, one of San Francisco’s lesser known neighborhoods, is getting a major makeover.

In addition to the 266 incoming luxury condos and townhomes, Walter Hood, recipient of the 2019 MacArthur “genius” grant, will design a new park to complement the top of Yerba Buena Island.

Hilltop Park, as it will be christened, will “give residents and visitors alike a new perspective in which to experience and understand the San Francisco Bay landscape,” Hood tells Curbed SF. “The islands ecological and built cultural history serve as a new aperture to honor the site’s history as well as its new beginning.”

The two highest points of the park will offer distinct viewing opportunities. The eastern point “retains and reveals the site’s ecological history and fostering native flora,” according to Hood’s description of the park while the western side “cultivates an attention to the island’s cultural history.”

Yerba Buena Island, named after the original settlement that later became San Francisco, was once the home to a military base during the American Civil War. Years later, during the Gold Rush era, goats roamed the island eating vegetation, inspiring the United States Board on Geographic Names to rename it “Goat Island” until 1931.

A lap pool with lounge seating next to a two-story fancy building.
Yerba Buena Island’s amenity building, The Island Club, with architecture and interiors by Aidling Darling.

The park, though public, will be geared toward residents who will live on the natural island.

The complex will feature contributions from designers like Anne Howerton and Tim Slattery of Hart Howerton, Jon Ennis of BDE Architecture, Vivian Lee of Edmonds + Lee, and Lauren Stahl of CMG Landscape Architecture, just to name a few. The luxury housing will come with biking and hiking trails, as well as The Island Club, which will feature yoga, lounges, and outdoor lap pool.

Only 14 of the new homes will be subsidized housing. Homes on Yerba Buena Island will begin selling in 2020, with move-ins aimed for 2021.

It’s all an early step in part of a major Treasure Island redevelopment project that will transform the manmade part of the island into a dense hub of housing.