450 Architects worked with the Francisco Reservoir Working Group (FRWG) to establish consensus within the community; garner positive political will; and generate a conceptual design and cost estimate for a proposed Open Space to be located at the site of the existing abandoned Francisco Reservoir. The reservoir, a concrete and wood structure built in the mid 1800’s to store approximately 9 million gallons of water, is in a state of disrepair and an eyesore to the community. The 4.56 acre site is located on a steeply sloping north-facing hillside in the densely populated Russian Hill neighborhood. The upper part of the site offers sweeping views of Aquatic Park, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County and distant views west, north and east. 450 facilitated the FRWG in developing project goals and program, which serve as the backbone of the conceptual design, and continues to support the project realization.
Flora and Fauna
The planting strategy for Francisco includes preserving the existing heritage Monterey Cypress tree, Coastal Live Oak, and Australian Tea trees. Diseased trees, overgrown shrubs, and invasive plants will be removed to make way for the installation of complementary oaks, both fast and slow growing shade trees and windbreaks. Additionally, drought tolerant, climactically appropriate grasses, shrub, brushes, fescues, and durable, climate adapted turf will be installed. Planting will follow the laws of Permaculture, with the planting of intentional guilds. Plants at the canopy, understory, and groundcover will be selected to mature together and complement each other, encouraging a healthy, biodiverse habitat. The park will create refuge for migratory birds, attract pollinators, and support desired wildlife.
History, Art, and Education
The design of the park acknowledges and celebrates the historic resource: Francisco Reservoir. Throughout the site there will be signage and educational moments to celebrate the history of water capture, conveyance, distribution, and storage; and how the reservoir allowed early San Francisco to grow. While large stretches of the site will regraded to improve the park experience, a section of the reservoir will remain, where park visitors will be able to walk on the brick liner, view the reservoir’s pipes and gauge, and learn about the contemporary water systems that support plant life today.
The park will be designed to minimize the use of municipal drinking water, and aims to achieve net-zero water usage for irrigation after the initial establishment of plants. Rainwater capture, greywater capture, and recirculation of irrigation water are all strategies under current consideration to achieve this goal. Additionally, a possible, but not probable strategy of sewer mining has been identified as a way for supply near-unlimited irrigation water year round.
The park will be lit by durable, high efficiency LED lights, designed to improve safety and minimize light pollution.
Thoughtful planning and placement of light, plants, vegetation, benches, and ample view corridors into the park will create a safe place for people and animals.
The park is designed to invite and accommodate diverse users and activities; creating a vibrant, viable public space. An inviting, ADA compliant path winds itself through the various program areas of the park, including: overlook plazas, a dog run, children’s playground, large and small lawns, historical exhibits, and natural, planted areas. There is something for all ages and abilities to enjoy – from places for quiet reflection to active areas for children’s play and exploration. Multiple entries to the park invite users approaching from any direction to experience all the park has to offer.