Having survived several devastating earthquakes and violent fires, San Francisco rose from the ashes time after time and became more and more beautiful. In the ranking of the international magazine Time Out, published in September 2021, San Francisco was declared the best city in the world, beating competitors such as Amsterdam, Tokyo and Montreal.
What makes San Francisco so special? A unique climate where it is almost equally sunny all year round and at the same time almost always cool? The biggest trees on Earth that grow in close proximity to the city? Maybe ethnic diversity? It seems to us that we have found one of the key reasons why the Californian metropolis was able to bypass the arrogant European capitals.
How landscape designers in San Francisco turned lemon into lemonade
In recent decades, it has been landscape designers who have made a decisive contribution to the well-being, prosperity and beauty of San Francisco. Landscape architects adequately accepted the challenge posed by natural disasters and came out of the game as absolute winners. Ruins turned into futuristic palaces, abandoned industrial zones became blooming gardens. Let’s look at the most notable projects of recent years.
In the early 1990s, the centuries-old Presidio was decommissioned and became part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area. Already in the XXI century, the development of projects such as the creation of Digital Arts Campus and the restoration of Crissy Field began. In recent years, landscape designers in San Francisco have been working to restore Presidio’s natural bluffs and its historic forest.
The demolition of the San Francisco Central Freeway in the late 90s sparked the revival of Hayes Valley. On the site of yesterday’s ruins, a real city of the future 300 Ivy has emerged, green, cozy and innovative. To this day, the area set the highest bar for urbanists around the world.
Between 1998 and 2008, the Mission Bay industrial area was transformed into a mixed-use waterfront development. Many brilliant architectural projects have flourished in this area, which have become the true pride of the city.
Finally, San Francisco’s oldest South Park, founded in the mid-19th century, was reinterpreted in 2017, turning into an immaculate, captivating garden located in the middle of museums, tech and design businesses, as well as the city’s professional baseball stadium.
More captivating pearls of landscape design in San Francisco
However, do not think that the masterpieces of landscape design flourish only in ruins. To balance our article, we selected 3 more spectacular proofs that San Francisco was declared the best city in the world for a reason.
UC School of Public Health / Marty and Joyce Griffin Terrace
Despite the limited budget of the school, landscape architects were able to design an unforgettable, unlike anything else park, perfectly fitting into the surrounding landscape. The gardens of Marty and Joyce Griffin Terrace, spread out on the western slope of Mount Tamalpais, grow rare and beautiful plants from all over the world. The emotional center of the park is the massive multi-tiered Bolinas Bench structure, which offers breathtaking views of the hills of North Berkeley.
This paradoxical, unprecedented little park was inspired by the image of a green sprout stubbornly making its way through the asphalt. The garden stretches right on the giant concrete slab. Architects and landscape designers of San Francisco created a series of cracks filled with different plants – flowers, vegetables, weeds, potatoes. This unique project was awarded the ASLA Honor Award.
2175 Market Street
This amazing project can be considered as a standard of modern urbanism, an example of a harmonious combination of science, nature and art. The 88-apartment building, the core of the complex, is located at the nexus between three distinct neighborhoods in San Francisco: the Castro, Duboce Triangle, and the Mission. The main space is a courtyard raised several feet above the sidewalk level, with a grove of shady birches and a mural by San Francisco artist Ben Eine. Other highlights include open space on the roof with dramatic 360-degree views of the city. The roof also have moveable furniture for parties, hammocks for resting, as well as a barbecue and firepit. Notably that the project received a LEED for Homes Platinum level.
Salesforce Roof Garden
It is impossible not to mention the park laid out on the roof of Salesforce — one of the largest gardens in its category. Thanks to these and other projects, the Bay Area continues to develop. And the main catalyst for this process can be named landscape designers in San Francisco.