February 16, 2011

Noe Valley Town Square: Concepts

While the process to secure funding for the Noe Valley Town Square is in flux, the design phase is in full swing. CMG Landscape Architecture presented four concepts at the February 2nd Community Meeting. The images in this post are from that presentation, but we've been asked to emphasize that "it is very important to note that the schemes are to be thought of as menus of choices not as complete packages." CMG asks that you read the PDF presentation for contextual descriptions of each scheme. For instance, Alternative 4 (above) is pitched like this:
The “Not so Square ” concept provides continuous garden edge around a generous, active and flexible square. The defining aspects of the concept are the curvilinear edges that define the square and series of pavilion structures including a restroom located in the northeast corner, a community wall and seating area located on the west edge, and stage backdrop and seating area located in the southeast corner. The stage backdrop and pavilion structure would provide lighting and infrastructure for community movie nights as well as power and lighting for a portable stage. The garden is framed by a variety of sculptural seating areas and elements to create an inviting space for daily use and informal play. A children’s play room is located in the east garden area. The garden area would be planted with a variety of flowering native plants to provide seasonal variety and butterfly habitat. An informal arrangement of tree’s would provide a buffer to residential yards along the back edge of the square. The paving pattern is designed to provide a variety of textures colors.

The concept also includes the option of an interactive water feature with small bubble jets built into the paving surface. The water feature could be activated by children and turned off to maintain flexibility for events.
The PDF also illustrates how Farmer's Market stalls would fit in the design. If for some reason you are unable to read the PDF, send us a note and we'll forward it to your email. The other concepts are in JPG form below.

[CMG: Noe Valley Town Square (PDF)]


murphstahoe said...

I think we miss a big opportunity if whatever design does not extend into the "parking" portion of 24th Street. A town square should not be bordered by parked cars (even if made "no parking", cars will ritually illegally park there, even in the curb cut).

I'd also push for a raised marked crosswalk at this location.

cr said...

Very much agreed with murphstahoe.

At the meeting, the architect noted that the sidewalk extension you see in Design 1 could be added to any of the designs. Apparently it's not cheap to build out the sidewalk -- and with the project's murky fundraising outlook there will be pressure to cut corners on cost -- but it will be worth it. This should be a priority.

There was some discussion about swapping the Martha Bros. parklet for this space, so that there is no net loss in parking (although personally I would favor the additional public space even with the loss of two parking spots).

The raised crosswalk mid-block is a great idea. To be a true town square, pedestrians should be able to approach it from three directions (including directly across the street). This idea did not come up at the meeting but should be in the mix.

Anonymous said...

The idea of a raised marked crosswalk is not a good one. People can walk a very short 1/2 block to either Sanchez or Vicksburg and back up to the town square. Waste of time and money. The idea just caters more and more to the notion of making it "easy" to get around.

Make em walk a little.

murphstahoe said...

They won't walk a little. Every day hundreds of people jaywalk from the parking lot to Martha's. Now, with a pedestrian refuge across from Martha's, this will be worse. They *will* jaywalk.

Given that, it's a public safety issue, not a convenience issue. In the scope of the entire project this is peanuts.

rocky's dad said...

Number 3 alternative: The Great Room is the most elegant, simple and flexible of all the schemes.

It also appears to be the most cost effective. Simplicity should be the key feature of the square.

Let cars park in front of the square. This is very common in great squares in Italy. Don't reduce parking.

No merry grounds, no elaborate play structures. Don't spend money on elaborate paving. Make it permeable and easy to maintain.

No. 3 is my first choice, so far. Excellent job on all the schemes.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what the current tent count the current Farmer's Market supports? That is, after adjusting for how much room is taken by vehicles, etc. Elizabeth? You out there?

murphstahoe said...

"Don't reduce parking."

We already did. The neighborhood did not collapse. Horse trade the spots at Martha's. QED.

Comparisons to Italy's great squares might be a bit tenuous - cars are forbidden in those areas (Siena, Florence for example - I have a ticket from Florence to prove it).

rocky's dad said...

Again, people above need to read more carefully my previous comments:

Nothing was said about cars parking "in" the square. They park all around many squares/piazzas in Italy, France, etc, large and small spaces.

Leave the parking in front of the square.

The worst thing would be to put in a marked crosswalk, midblock. Can you imagine the traffic backup then when people will simply keep walking in the crosswalk, never allowing cars to go thru. It's bad enough at the Noe/ 24th intersection. Some pedestrians are selfish and never seem to allow cars to make it thru. We don't need more crosswalks on 24th. BAD IDEA!

Keep the horses out too.

murphstahoe said...

"Can you imagine the traffic backup then when people will simply keep walking in the crosswalk, never allowing cars to go thru. It's bad enough at the Noe/ 24th intersection."

If this project ends up being unfunded, I promise to try to do something about that particular intersection. Bevan Dufty is no longer our supervisor. I recommend you start helping Todd David raise funds.

John Murphy - 2/16/11

cr said...


The current tent count is, I believe 29 or 30. That includes the food vendors, who need electricity.

At the meeting some of the farmer's markets folks said they believe the market is not viable at 24 tents. In my opinion Design #4 is not an option for that reason.

cr said...

@RockysDad, I agree that simplicity should be a key feature.

There were some concerns at the meeting about Design #3 having the toddler play area in front. Parents preferred having the kids further from the street. There was also a concern that the area in front might close off the square from the street and create bottlenecks during the market.

My issue with #3 is that the green space behind the benches is wasted. It is a garden to look at rather than green space (e.g. a landform) that can be sat on.

As the editor notes, though, the architect has emphasized that this is a menu of features, and elements from various designs can be combined in one plan. I do like #3's simplicity, and the long rows of "urban lounge" seating.

rocky's dad said...

Some good points CR: thanks for those.

Scheme 3 could still work very well with the kids play area moved to the rear of the site. On the other hand, there may be more visual security obtained by keeping it near the front.

I like the landscape perimeter band more as a wonderful green buffer zone, than a place to sit. It would need to be larger (in depth) to make it a true place to sit on. Benches and other fixed seating devices seem more appropriate for sitting, than adding more green zone and decreasing the large, simple open space. Adding green space, such as grass is more of a "suburban" approach to the plaza, I feel.

Simplicity should be the predominant theme, both from a cost perspective as well as multiple uses.

Anonymous said...

Who is CR and how does he/she know
so much, or is it just another name for John Murphy???

cr said...

I'm not John Murphy a.k.a. murphstahoe.

I live in the neighborhood. I went to the meeting and paid attention. That's how I know everything I know. Crazy, huh?

I sign my posts "cr" so you can connect this thing I said with other things I've said.

If you haven't noticed, John's not exactly shy about expressing himself under his own name.

rocky's dad said...

I've followed cr's comments as well over the past year or so. We mostly are aligned on some of these current NV urban issues.

cr is definitely cr and not pretending to be anyone else.

Nails Doverspike said...

glad to see by this thread NVSFblog has roughly 6+ commentators-Murph, CR, Rocky's Dad,anonymous(s), and me. Best wishes to all, and keep up the neighborhood vigil. ND