Hayes Valley Playground

Hayes Valley Playground

The Trust for Public Land partnered with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to update this urban park, originally built in 1958. Reflecting The Trust for Public Land’s mission to create livable communities through land conservation in and around cities, this new playground and 2,500-square-foot clubhouse provide a dense neighborhood with a safe, welcoming facility that fosters an appreciation for nature, outdoor activity, and social gathering.

The project was the first of three sites in the City to participate in our The Trust for Public Land’s “Parks for People” initiative, supported in San Francisco by local corporations and private funders. The playground and clubhouse also received funding from the local city and government agencies. Working in partnership with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, The Trust for Public Land hired us as part of Public Architecture’s 1% Program.

This playground is centrally located between San Francisco’s Hayes Valley and Western Addition neighborhoods; the surrounding community is young, engaged, and diverse. Direct feedback and involvement from the community significantly influenced our design of the park. From the project’s inception, The Trust for Public Land engaged local organizations in a series of in-depth meetings and held public design forums. Through these interactions, several priorities—including high quality, contemporary design, and green features—drove every aspect of design.

Nestled into a slight incline along the site’s southern edge, the low-profile steel and glass clubhouse frames views of the City and brings focus to the site’s open playground and park areas, beckoning visitors from the main entrance. Clad in a rainscreen of vibrant blue Trespa panels, the facility communicates activity and vitality. Patrons have access to a large community recreation room and a multi-use computer room. These two main volumes, or pavilions, are joined by a living roof, which covers the office, kitchen, and restrooms and creates a protected, porch-like space below. As it matures, the living roof will come to feel like an extension of the park.

Our environmental graphic design strategy embraced this sense of energy with bright yellow supergraphics that contrast with the vivid blue of the architecture. Our graphics play with typography to convey a simple yet bold message about the sustainable features that were integrated into the building design and landscape. Neighbors and visitors can see this welcoming, lively building and its interior from a distance, encouraging them to enjoy the park.

The facility integrates a holistic system of passive site and building strategies, including the living roof, solar hot water heating, radiant floor heating, and passive cooling. Building orientation takes maximum advantage of the site’s sun and wind conditions, allowing for optimal daylighting and ventilation. Other sustainable design elements include recycled denim insulation, low-flow toilets, FSC-certified wood, and native, drought-tolerant plantings. The ventilated rainscreen provides additional insulation. Recycled materials and pervious surfaces are incorporated into the outdoor playground to further minimize environmental impact.