Landslide2008: Marvels of Modernism


Courtesy Aaron Goodman

Today, Parkmerced is at a crossroads.

The collective changes wrought over the past decade, along with proposed future re-design and densification proposals, raise the question of how much Parkmerced can absorb without compromising its historic integrity. With the most recent sale, contributing historic portions of the property were sold to San Francisco State University (SFSU). SFSU's master plan proposes demolition of portions of the acquired lots which would not only result in a loss of historic features, but would significantly alter the overall scale of construction as well as critical visual and spatial relationships. 


Courtesy Aaron Goodman

Additionally, the commercial zone has been sold off. The combined result from these and other sales means that the site has been reduced nearly 40% to 116 acres. Parkmerced, which was planned as “a city within a city,” does not relate to its surrounding neighborhoods. Major traffic arteries isolate it from adjacent areas and its radial street system forming irregular block patterns presents a stark contrast to the traditional rectangular San Francisco street grid. The three clusters of residential towers stand out from the two-story residential development in the western part of San Francisco and even from the universally low institutional buildings at SFSU. However, recent development proposals by multiple adjacent property owners and SFSU agencies has threatened to significantly alter both the boundaries and the historic character of the site. The site’s historic boundary is being chipped away and encroaching development has removed any buffer from the surrounding community.

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List of Marvels

Boston City Hall Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

Estates Drive Reservoir
Oakland, California

Heritage Plaza
Heritage Park
Fort Worth, Texas

Kaiser Roof Garden
Kaiser Center
Oakland, California

Lake Elizabeth
Allegheny Commons
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Manhattan Square Park
Rochester, New York

Mill Creek Canyon

Kent, Washington

Miller Garden
Columbus, Indiana

El Monte
Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

Pacific Science
Center Courtyard

Seattle, Washington

San Francisco, California

Peavey Plaza
Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota

education partners
Garden DesignGeorge Eastman House
Additional Sponsors

American Society of Landscape Architects’ Indiana, Pennsylvania/Delaware, Minnesota, Northern California, Texas, Upstate New York, and Washington Chapters • Astorino • Charles Butt • Design Within Reach • Topher Delaney • Sandy Donnell & Justin Faggioli • Fathom • Tom Fox • Hillman Foundation • Indianapolis Museum of Art • Lorraine Osmundson • Richard T. Murphy • National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast, Southwest, and Western Offices- with funds from the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation of New York, Dodge Jones Foundation Intervention Fund, and Eastern Massachusetts Preservation Fund • James Richards • Seibert & Rice • Diana & Bruce Shuman • Ann Stack • SWA Group • TBG Partners • Michal and Jeffrey William Tincup • Unilock Inc. • The Woltz Charitable Trust