Central Freeway Studio

Freeway Removal & Neighborhood Plan Proposal

About | Reconnaissance | Site Analysis | Sketch Design | Neighborhood Plans: Mission Creek | Street Typology


Plan Preparation Studio explores city building and place-making. Led by Elizabeth MacDonald and Allan Jacobs, UC Berkeley's CP208: Plan Preparation Studio (Spring 2013) studied San Francisco's Central Freeway Corridor, with scenarios for full or partial takedown.

The Central Freeway is an elevated freeway connecting the Bayshore/James Lick Freeway with the Hayes Valley neighborhood in San Francisco. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the city replaced a portion of the freeway with Octavia Boulevard (designed by Elizabeth & Jake). Roughly one-mile of the freeway stands, forming a dividing line in the city. San Francisco has a long history of resisting and removing freeways, so exploring this arena was particularly fun.

The first half of the studio (Reconnaissance & Site Analysis) focused on understanding existing conditions, from the qualities of the physical environment to its social and economic contexts. We engaged in empirical observations, collected data, and prepared graphics to communicate findings from initial site analyses. The second half of the studio (Sketch Design, Neighborhood Plan, & Street Typology Design) was spent preparing a neighborhood plan for the study area. We worked individually and in teams to create a cohesive neighborhood plan that addresses land use, urban form, housing, streets, open space, and transportation in the area. A major emphasis of the studio was on graphic and oral presentation.

Reconnaissance: Cycling & Points of Interest

Reconnaissance is defined as "preliminary surveying or research." We conducted a reconnaissance of the area, preparing neighborhood drawings from our field observations. My first goal was to orient myself to the study area. Various grids collide and change at the Central Freeway, which can make it a particularly confusing area. As an avid cyclist, I decided to focus on bike flows and points of confusion in the area.

My base map was inspired by Axis Maps's great typographic maps. The second layer was the cycling map, indicating points of confusion, as well as points of interest.

Site Analysis: Commercial Opportunities

As a studio class, we analyzed the social and economic characteristics, physical structure, built form, natural factors, and movement characteristics of the Central Freeway Corridor (in other words, the existing conditions of the study area). We presented this information graphically and orally. As a member of the Commercial Services team, I mapped real estate properties and highlighted key commercial opportunities for innovative reuse.

>> Download Commercial Opportunities | Central Freeway Existing Conditions Study (All Boards, 66MB)

Photos from the Site Analysis/Existing Conditions presentation (March 11, 2013):

Sketch Design: Blue Steel

IMAGINE: A new amusement park in San Francisco - an attraction much like Tivoli Gardens or Navy Pier. Residents and visitors alike ride up Blue Steel, the new ferris wheel, with grand views of the city. Breathtaking! Recalling my younger RollerCoaster Tycoon days and love of amusement parks, I toyed with the idea of putting a ferris wheel on top of the Central Freeway. With all the buzz about the High Line and Bloomingdale Trail, why not? If we are to keep the Central Freeway, in what ways can we repurpose it for people?

Neighborhood Planning: Mission Creek

I worked in a team of nine students to develop a neighborhood plan for the area around the Central Freeway. We propose to remove the freeway, reconnect the streets, daylight the historic creek, and put people first to create "Mission Creek." I created the graphic standards for the team, which included board layouts and neighborhood logo design.

OUR VISION: Rejuvenate Mission Creek as an inviting new center - the open, green-space core of a sustainable transportation corridor, in a walkable, high-density, mixed-use neighborhood bustling with activity. Diverse and eclectic Central Plaza connects Mission Creek Park to 13th Street - a multi-modal boulevard providing wide sidewalks, bus rapid transit (BRT) service, cycle access and a human-scale public realm lined with retail, office and residential uses.

>> Download the Mission Creek Neighborhood Plan (All Boards, 196MB)

Street Typology

Our team proposed to remove the Central Freeway, reconnect the streets, daylight the historic creek, and put people first in this new "Mission Creek" neighborhood. I collaborated with the team on the transportation changes necessitated by the removal of the freeway. For my individual board, I created a new street typology for the area, recognizing the diversity of streets in the area which merit different design considerations. The typology is inspired by San Francisco's Better Streets Plan and Complete Streets Chicago Design Manual.

>> See the Street Typology Board

Example of typology: "Main Streets"

Illustrated details from proposed street typology

Preliminary research and select sketches for the final board

Final review and presentation of "Mission Creek" (May 8, 2013):

>> Download the Mission Creek Neighborhood Plan (All Boards, 196MB)