Merit Award

Ghirardelli Square Plaza: Revitalizing an Icon

San Francisco, CA


Principal in Charge: Brian Jencek,

Client: Jamestown, L.P.

From Woolen Mill to Ghirardelli Chocolate to our nation’s first major adaptive re-use project, the 160-year old Ghirardelli Square serves as one of America’s most enduring icons. In 1962, Lawrence Halprin and William Wurster, repurposed the historic factory buildings into a tourism destination, organized around a public plaza. Recognizing the cultural value for future generations, the Woolen and Ghirardelli Buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Since the 1980’s a series of exterior alterations departed from Halprin’s 1960’s vision, introducing challenges including inaccessibility, poor visual connections, excessive clutter, hindered Bay views, incompatible materials, and circulation pinch points. Over time, these challenges hindered use of the plaza and contributed to the Square’s decline. Commencing in 2014, our team was selected to lead the Vision and Master Plan, Design Guidelines, and design projects to revitalize the Square and steer future improvements. The city approved Vision Plan identified 14 on-going projects focused on improving public access; day, night and year-round uses; transportation connections; regional plantings; and compatible material and furnishings palettes.