Meyer Studio Land Architects: Just steps from bustling Market Street, Alta Laguna is a six-acre complex located in the heart of San Francisco. The site plan stitches together an ambitious program of 330 market rate units, 110 LGBT-friendly senior units, various public spaces, a community garden and a series of private courts for residents. MSLA worked extensively with neighborhood groups and the San Francisco Planning Department to develop the design.

Waller Park is the main public artery of the Development and stretches across the complex as an urban pedestrian promenade. With dramatic views, Waller Park cascades 50 feet downwards with a grand staircase. An allee of Gingko trees gracefully marches down with each level. This, and the artistic collage of tree grates, trench drains, pavers and furnishings are knitted together to form the spine of the park.

With below grade parking, most of the landscape is on structure. The underground parking structure was depressed six feet below finish grade to support cantilevered paving and an extensive environment of uncompacted and porous soils allowing the Gingko grove to thrive for generations.  The design challenges the mentality of the ‘disposable landscape’ so commonly adopted in cities.  Whereas many city trees suffer and must be replaced frequently due to deficient soils for healthy root growth, Waller Park provided an alternative mentality.

The grand staircase is civic-spirited, offering ever changing views of the city below. North of the staircase is a series of terraced stadium seats, plazas and belvederes. These structures are expressions of a new public space, one which welcomes, celebrates, and provides places of respite for the community. On the southern edge of the site, a series of bioswale planters capture and clean the site’s stormwater. The design integrates innovative ways to bring a wide range of amenities to the housing development and community, helping to transform a once-blighted area into a safe, thriving neighborhood.

Landscape Architecture: MSLA
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: WOLF Architecture, BAR Architects, Van Meter Williams Pollack, Santos Prescott and Associates, Sherwood Engineers
Project location: Laguna Street, San Francisco, CA
Design year: 2012
Year Built: 2015

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