Parkmerced Project

Parkmerced Project - Reece 1 Kurtis Reece URBS 432 Guo The...

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Reece 1 Kurtis Reece URBS 432 Guo 4/3/2008 The New Parkmerced: A Sustainable, Transit-Oriented Development Many students at San Francisco State find Parkmerced to be a very convenient location to live. The two story townhouses have enclosed courtyards, offering residents semi- private open space, and the tower apartments have peaceful views of the ocean and Lake Merced. Other than the complex’s few perks though, it offers very little to its residents. Its monotonous exteriors and 1940’s and 50’s interiors can make one feel like they are stuck in Soviet housing projects and the lack of retail services and access to transportation make getting everyday goods a huge chore. Because of this, residents are forced to rely on cars to take care of their day to day activities. And, as the planning world knows, the ramifications of car-oriented development are endless. The problem lies within the original context of the Parkmerced’s development. The development was built in the 1940’s and 50’s, an era when the car was believed to be the ultimate solution to transportation problems. This era, marked by the burgeoning freeway network, marked the beginning of sprawling suburbs all over the United States. Although the complex has a relatively high density and is relatively walkable, it is apparent when looking at the street patterns that the streets were built with the car in mind. Every road is lined with street parking and the only retail center is hangs onto the eastern periphery, ignoring the units that occupy the western blocks. Also, the complex is located on the southwestern corner of San Francisco adjacent to 19 th Avenue, Highway 1, and Interstate 280. Its location has made it the perfect place for people to live who want easy access to freeways that can take them trough out the bay area.
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Reece 2 Figure 1: Note the wide roads in and around the neighborhood inviting automobile use (1955) Source: The Western Neighborhoods Project With the current, and future, population growth of California, San Francisco’s never ending housing shortage, and the need to reduce environmental impact of residential development, developments like this need to be dealt with. The redevelopment of Parkmerced, the largest apartment complex west of the Mississippi, can become an icon for transit oriented, sustainable development. Parkmerced Investors, LLC realized that they had the potential to fix the auto-centric neighborhood when they bought the development in 2005 (Parkmerced Investors, 2007). Immediately after the purchase, they hired the Bay Area’s world renowned architecture firm Skidmore Owens & Merrill (SOM) to come up with a 1.2 billion dollar, 20 year redevelopment plan that “would reinvent the automobile-centric World War II-era community as
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Parkmerced Project - Reece 1 Kurtis Reece URBS 432 Guo The...

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