Mike Chino

Behind the Design of San Francisco's 1 Burrows Pocket Park with Rebar Studio and Artist Jason Jagel

by , 12/20/13

This past October we brought you a first look at 1 Burrows Pocket Park, a community-driven project launched by Architecture for Humanity, the Lincoln Reimagine Project and Architectural Digest to transform an abandoned cul-de-sac in San Francisco’s Portola neighborhood into a vibrant public park. Now that the project has broken ground, we had the opportunity to chat with Matthew Passmore of Rebar Art & Design Studio and artist Jason Jagel to bring you an exclusive first look at the park’s design – including innovative street furniture, an amazing mural, and a living green wall. Check out the brand new video above and read on to learn more about this exciting urban renewal project!

1 Burrows Pocket Park, Lincoln Reimagine Project, San Francisco, urban design, green design, sustainable design, pocket park, park, rebar, architectural digest, architecture for humanity, jason jagel, portola, burrows street, green building, sustainable building, public spacePhoto via Open Architecture Network

Burrows Street is a 1-mile-long road in San Francisco’s working class Portola neighborhood that runs up against the 101 Freeway. The space once served as a dumping ground for rubbish, however it’s primed to blossom as a new urban oasis. For Rebar’s Matthew Passmore, the project’s location and small size presented challenges while serving as a wellspring of inspiration. He says: “The most inspiring thing to me about the Burrows Street pocket park was its small scale, the way it is tucked into the existing fabric of the city. It is a true niche space, a half-block fragment of the City that dead ends at a freeway.”

1 Burrows Pocket Park, Lincoln Reimagine Project, San Francisco, urban design, green design, sustainable design, pocket park, park, rebar, architectural digest, architecture for humanity, jason jagel, portola, burrows street, green building, sustainable building, public space

Rebar has a long history of finding value in underutilized urban spaces (they came up with Park(ing) Day after all), so they set to work designing an accessible public park that wouldn’t “overwhelm the site with too much design.” Matthew says: “In a dense business district like the one surrounding Burrows Street, people may not have time in their day to visit a large local park, so they will hopefully use a small pocket park. It doesn’t take much to create an opportunity to sit, relax and do nothing for a few minutes.”

Community input was key to developing the park – Matthew sees underused spaces as “great opportunities to invite the public to participate in the creation of the city – to co-create the city with us. This form of participation can change they way people view their city – it is no longer a set of received spatial conditions, but rather something they helped form. This fundamentally alters the way people relate to the built environment, and potentially alters their behavior and sense of citizenship.”

1 Burrows Pocket Park, Lincoln Reimagine Project, San Francisco, urban design, green design, sustainable design, pocket park, park, rebar, architectural digest, architecture for humanity, jason jagel, portola, burrows street, green building, sustainable building, public space

San Francisco-based artist Jason Jagel told Inhabitat that his style and process developed from margin drawings that he would do in art school while on the phone, in lectures, or thinking about other things. This improvisational working process leads to incredibly creative pieces that are even new to him.

Jason was thrilled when he was chosen to contribute artwork to the 1 Burrows Pocket Park, as it will be his first public mural. He was turned onto the project through people who live in the neighborhood and who have an interest in the area, and he sees the mural as an opportunity to break out of the studio. In the video, Jason says “Art needs to have a place in society in order for society to be sustainable.”

1 Burrows Pocket Park, Lincoln Reimagine Project, San Francisco, urban design, green design, sustainable design, pocket park, park, rebar, architectural digest, architecture for humanity, jason jagel, portola, burrows street, green building, sustainable building, public space

On developing the mural Jason says “I spent time in the Portola district looking at the beautiful large city block full of dilapidated greenhouses with wild roses and blackberries running throughout them, and I did research as well about the history of the neighborhood. From there, it was a typical thing of trying to take those elements and put them into some sort of picture.”

The mural depicts the Portola neighborhood using vibrant, cheerful colors. The aforementioned greenhouses burst with flowers and bright figures, while a pair of youths row a canoe with an acorn and an oak leaf – symbols of the Ohlone people who lived along the central and northern California coast. The youths are on a journey towards a tunnel blooming with roses – a future that is unknown yet grandiose and optimistic. (The tunnel actually references a tunnel once present on the site of the park that connected to the Bayview neighborhood.) A pair of gigantic hands encircle the scene in an embrace that is tender, but also protective – Jason says he wanted to offer up something of symbolic value that is also warm and supportive. If you’d like to see more of Jason’s work, you can check out his upcoming solo show at Gallery 16 in February 2014.

The elements of the 1 Burrows Pocket Park are coming together thanks to the hard work of all parties involved – stay tuned as we bring you updates and a first look at the park once it is completed in early 2014!

+ Lincoln Reimagine Project

+ Rebar

+ Jason Jagel

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