Honor Award

Lower Polk Alleyways District Vision Plan

San Francisco, CA


Client: Lower Polk Neighbors/Andrew Chandler

The Lower Polk Neighborhood is a distinct and vibrant part of the unique collection of neighborhoods that characterize San Francisco's celebrated urban heritage. It is a diverse, richly textured mixed-use neighborhood with an unusually porous fabric of Alleyways that are underutilized midblock open-spaces. This "found ground" was the impetus for the Alleyway District Vision Plan. By reframing the perception of these alleys from "backstreets" into active contributors, these smaller streets are re-scripted and physically re-programmed to support the busy street-life activity that extends late into the evenings. Six alleys extend outward from the Polk Street commercial spine forming a finer urban grain at the core of this changing neighborhood, which has no access to open space. Reclaiming them as "living streets" was a crucial component to creating enjoyable civic places dedicated to high-quality pedestrian experience within the neighborhood, as well as contributing to a healthier city. The Alleyways now take front stage, shifting the focus from "back of house" access-ways to a new green infrastructure of 'place' at the heart of the district.