Right outside of a popular coffee shop in San Francisco’s Mission District, passersby might be surprised to see what looks like a wooden shipwreck washed ashore on the curb. The ship is one of San Francisco's Parklets, the tiny urban oases created from former curbside parking spots. Parklets have taken San Francisco by storm since the idea was formally made part of the city’s “Pavement to Parks” program.
Ritual Coffee’s owner Eileen Hassi Rinaldi secured the approvals to create the new parklet, then partnered with architects Boor Bridges, contractor Ted Gon and landscape designer Groundcover Landscape to install this inspiring nautical scene on Valencia Street.
We went behind the scenes with Boor Bridges Architecture to find out what inspired this unusual addition to the streetscape. Seth Boor of Boor Bridges explained that the design was inspired by a photo of an old shipwreck on a beach. The design, which looks like the curved hull of a wooden boat, is meant to be playful and a bit tongue-in-cheek – Valencia Street is miles away from the ocean – while it also echoes San Francisco’s nautical heritage.
The parklet’s design is low-profile, and doesn’t detract from Ritual’s storefront. The “ship” is also functional, featuring seating, bike racks, and plantings – all neatly tucked into a space that was formerly used just to park a car.
Vertical bike racks rise up out of poured concrete and one corner of the parklet sports a unique concrete planter of sand sprouting with beach plants.
Visitors and residents to San Francisco can spot Boor Bridges’ other work all around the city – these specialists in public architecture have been involved with everything from the parklet outside of Four Barrel coffee, The Mill coffee shop, on Divisadero Street, and another Ritual Coffee outpost at Flora Grubb gardens.
In addition to the shipwreck parklet, Boor Bridges’ latest design collaboration is McCoppin Hub, a public plaza activating a formerly dead space between Market Street and Valencia, near Highway 101.
All photographs by the author