phillip burton federal building plaza

san francisco

competition entry 1996

san francisco prize 2nd place

In this response to a design competition sponsored by the General Services Administration, a new public ground plane is constructed over the terrain of the existing plaza, placed at a level of equivalence to the ground floor of the Federal Building.

As an appurtenance to the building it is extended from the government to the city; as an opening in the street grid it is a place from which the city can address its government.

The new ground is constructed of steel plates which are held slightly apart at their joints, establishing a visual and experiential connection with plantings of moss beneath. During the day slashes of daylight penetrate the undergrowth, while lighting below streams up through the joints at night.

The steel is coated to enhance its suitability as a public surface while retaining its reverberant qualities – the space of the sound highlighting the tension between the old and new grounds.


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