Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Interim Vacancy - Pt 2

A followup to the idea of interim use of vacant lands, the SF Chronicle surprised with expanded coverage of some ideas for these sites... and they are all pretty fun. King continues: "...a quartet of local designers see something else: a site that could become a sculpted realm of green folds spiked by artistic birdhouses - an evolving semi-natural terrain up to the moment when the 41-story tower slated for the site someday is ready to begin construction."

More on the article, but a glimpse or two of the visions by these groups. First, artist Ned Kahn - whose vertical work is amazing, gives a horizontal treatment - evoking Mono Lake. The "...Sebastapol artist... would turn an empty construction site at 535 Mission St., now covered by gravel, into what he calls "Memory of Water" -- a lakebed of sorts, created by shimmering metal discs. This is an aerial view from the roof of 560 Mission"

:: images via SF Gate

Another proposal from a great group (and instigators of Parking Day), REBAR, with 'The People's Public Workshop', which offers a suitable alternative and interactive use, in the form of "...a carnival midway with infrastructure as the theme. The pit would offer an array of ad hoc nooks where people could explore the nuts and bolts of city building. Explorers might encounter a workshop on pothole repairs, celebrations of public servants, participant games and artists-in-residence - all amid surplus piles of such urban arcana as backhoes and orange cones."

:: images via SF Gate

The final version, 'Vegetated States: Growth Between Booms' obvious has my heart with ample use of vegetation. Envisioned by a group including Sarah Kuehl and Adam Greenspan from PWP Landscape Architecture and Owen Kenner
ly and Sarina Bowen from Kennerly Architecture & Planning this multidisciplinary visage focuses on urban habitat. " A fence would still corral the long site - but with poles of varying heights topped by bird shelters tailored to local species. There'd still be a descent from Harrison Street - but steep forms churning up from the sidewalk would plunge deep into the site, native shrubs taking root. Jutting from the highest point: trussed sections of building cranes, clad in vines."

:: images via SF Gate

Interestingly enough, the comment stream seems to suggest that the property owners would never go for such a thing - as they would be sued when they wanted to actually get around to building on their site... it's a funny thing, isn't it. Leave it fenced and weedy and blighted - a-ok. Do something to improve it temporarily - lawsuit. I'd say it's a valid fear, but why don't we put the lawyers to use in the beginning of the process rather than use them as leverage towards the end - hammering out some agreed upon future use where everyone is happy and no-one is sued. These don't have to be long-term investments - but more along the lines of the ephemeral Pop-Up Park or temporary installations like PS 1 (which is really furry this year!)

We've become enamored with a fixed end use of any site and unable to see the potential forest amidst the potential buildings - happy to keep valuable land fallow, polluted land toxic, and open space fenced - until the price is right to put up another building.


  1. J--

    thought you might be interested in these folks in seattle:http://peoplesparkinglot.blogspot.com/ it isn't necessarily clear from the most recent blog posts, but the story is that the developer razed some buildings, someone sued, development dried up, and a gravel parking lot took its place.

    so, what was once a great little strip of much loved bars was now sterile nothingness. great.

    a little crew of urban guerrillas turn up and rock out with a garage sale and a "secret" dance party that began at midnight a few weeks ago. not design greatness, but helluva story for reclaiming space.

    this is another one that you'll like too: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/407920_macefield07.html

  2. This subject has been on my mind as well, as it often is. I was totally going to write you a comment recommending that you check out the blog, People's Parking Lot(s), but it looks like Brice beat me to it! So I'll just second that.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.