2018 Awards

Design: Parks, Recreation, Trails and Open Space

Merit Award

Mariposa Park
San Francisco, CA
Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT)
Lead Landscape Architect: James K. Stickley, ASLA, LEED AP
Client: Mission Bay Development Group, LLC

This cross-section from the schematic design drawings shows the attention to grading design where landform accentuates habitat areas,
encloses the multi-use lawn and buffers the park from the freeway and train corridor with a sharply graded and forested landform.
The park’s planting design combines natives and drought-tolerants to achieve seasonal variation, color, texture and fragrance in the sensory garden. Habitat zones utilize attractor species for butterflies, hummingbirds and other beneficial insects and avian species.
The gabions are designed to be sturdy and to showcase brick, stone and concrete rubble from demolished warehouses of the district. The colors and textures of these historic materials recall the rustic character of the waterfront.
A path traces the perimeter of the multi-function lawn accommodating strolling, dog-walking and a loop for young kids to practice biking. Here, the transition to the native habitat zone is marked by gabions and an informal fescue edge.
The main radial path cuts diagonally from the main plaza separating the active zone from the multi-function lawn and is marked by a row of red maples providing a dramatic swath of red in the fall and all-important shade in the summer.
The roundhouse pergola is carefully crafted from the old industrial design language of steel I-beams and salvaged, laminated wood cross-beams. Lighter framing and cable between the beams allow light to pass and vines to grow.
Radial gabions emanating from the turntable plaza symbolize train engines sitting on the old railyard spur tracks. Some gabions are carefully crafted with wood deck caps providing informal opportunities for seating, play and as stages for impromptu performances.
The park’s most active zone at its east end contains a seasonal sensory garden (foreground and right), the children’s butterfly metamorphosis play area (center), and the main plaza and pergola (background).
The old railyard roundhouse, turntable and radial spur tracks were strong influences in the central plaza, pergola and radial paths and gabions. Here the gabions are seen engaging the butterfly habitat zone on the park’s north and west edge.
One of the park’s important stakeholders was the new UCSF hospital whose children’s cancer wing sits directly across from the park’s east edge providing greenery, respite and comfort to patients and their families.
The park design was heavily influenced by its context of San Francisco’s historic Central Waterfront and adjacent Dogpatch neighborhood with its gritty industrial character, iconic gantry cranes and historic warehouses.
This page from the schematic design final report illustrates the complex layering of the park’s design including ecological zones, programmed activities and stormwater management strategy.
This page from the schematic design final report describes the strong ecological and cultural influences of the
park design with the site sitting squarely on both a former railyard and before that, a former tidal marsh.
This page from the schematic design final report shows the park’s pivotal location at the southwest corner of the new
Mission Bay district, positioning it as an important community resource for three neighborhoods – Mission Bay, Potrero Hill and Dogpatch.
Site plan showing the organization of the park to satisfy a wide spectrum of program elements – active gathering plaza, children’s play area and sensory garden at the east end, multiuse lawn in the center and habitat on the northwest.

Mariposa Park is a culmination of multiple objectives identified through intensive community engagement including: ecologicalrestoration in an area long degraded by industrial uses; essential public space programming serving three San Francisco neighborhoods; cultural expression in San Francisco’s oldest working waterfront; and a capstone park completing the new Mission Bay district’s medical campus. The design team worked carefully with community and stakeholder representatives from the three neighborhoods that border the park – Dogpatch, Potrero Hill and Mission Bay – identifying specific goals and needs each of them had for a new park accessible from their neighborhoods. Sometimes these goals were competing, sometimes they were complimentary but above all, the neighbors wanted a park that was flexible for their various needs and delivered “real nature” in the City. Striking this balance between real nature and a highly programmed, flexible urban park was at the core of the challenges of this project. The resulting park design strives for its own unique design language and inherent beauty while providing program, ecological function and genuine cultural expression to the community.