Union Square, San Francisco

San Francisco, CA

Submitted by: Dan Tuttle

An urban plaza, formerly an urban garden.

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Why It Doesn't Work

This design is the result of an international competition and (most significantly) a lot of meddling by planners, art coordinators and artists, and adjoining property owners, including Saks, Macy's, the St. Francis Hotel, etc.

The result is like the proverbial camel, neither hard nor soft, with no clear focus or purpose, and cluttered beyond belief with tchotchkes, no doubt meant to "enliven" the users experience but which merely supplant any genuine engagement with others or with the city. Worse still, they tore out an old and beloved space to build this travesty.

In sum, a huge disappointment, and a good example of what happens when bureaucrats assume that they know more than the designers they hire.

What Puts Union Square, San Francisco in the Hall of Shame?

No better than the old space. In fact it's identical in every major respect.

Cold, cluttered, and visually alienating. The section is the result of putting parking requirements over open space needs.

The same as before, no more or less. There’s the occasional "sidewalk sale," lots of tourists and shoppers just hanging out.

Locals, maybe 10%. Tourists, easily 90%.

Contact Info:

General Parks Department information: (415) 831-2700

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