2013 Awards

Design: Student Graduate Awards

Graduate Award

Unaccepted Streets: From Paper to Reality
Seal Beach, CA
Lead Designer: Sarah Moos, UC Berkeley
Advisors: SPUR; Marcel Wilson, Bionic Landscape; David Beaupre; Port of San Francisco,
AECOM, San Francisco

Network of Unaccepted Streets—Because the network spans neighborhoods, varies in jurisdiction, and hosts a variety of adjacent land uses, it will require the synergistic participation of all stakeholders on improvement projects for network evolution and full realization. The network is divided into 3 infrastructural elements as a strategy to identify the scale of each improvement
Accessible Open Space + Concentration of Streets—Accessible open space is that which is within a 1/4-mile walking distance from residences in San Francisco. A map of the unaccepted streets reveals the neighborhoods impacted by San Francisco’s growing pains. Concentrated in seven of San Francisco’s southern and southeastern neighborhoods, the unaccepted streets have left the public realm of these areas in disrepair.
Stakeholder Goals—Stakeholders throughout San Francisco are actively visioning methods for improving the public realm of the city, specifically street conditions in the southeastern neighborhoods. Combined, their visions advocate improving the pedestrian experience of San Francisco through three main goals. 1/ Establish open space. 2/ Create connectivity and access. 3/ Promote biodiversity and natural habitat.
Unaccepted Street Classification + Quantification—Unaccepted Streets: any public right-of-way not accepted by the city for maintenance. Streets: a paved, yet unimproved, public thoroughfare. Paper Streets: an unimproved street demarcated on a map and legislated as a public right-of-way, but often not fully articulated in the landscape or existing in reality. Private Streets: a public right-of-way under private jurisdiction for maintenance. Uprows: an unimproved utility and public right-of-way. Pedestrian Streets: a street designated for pedestrian-only use. Private Parking Streets: a street being used for parking and under private jurisdiction for maintenance. Pseudo Streets: Guerrero Park – a Pavement to Parks project.
Typologies—On-site analysis identified that underutilized streets and spaces of San Francisco currently exist in 10 different types. These include beneath freeways, easements, existing open spaces, inaccessible, parking lots, passageways, serviceways, steep slopes, streets, and vacant.
Analysis—Available as a geographic informational database, the unaccepted streets were analyzed and interpreted using digital mapping (GIS) to identify spatial conditions and strategic networking opportunities. A set of 13 spatial attributes critical to achieving each of the three main goals of San Francisco were overlaid with both unaccepted streets to identify a macro-scale network.
Synthesis + Comparison—Synthesis of where the streets intersect with or exist in proximity to each attribute generated a composite density analysis that identifies the areas within the city most opportune for developing and achieving San Francisco’s three main goals. When compared to historic maps of San Francisco, a parallel alignment is apparent between historic waterways, natural passageways, and the identified network. The identified network also reflects the inverse of residential land use, suggesting the prospect of connecting residential communities to San Francisco’s waterfront, to the Blue Greenway, and to each other along a pedestrian-oriented, urban open space network of unaccepted streets.
Research—Research of existing conditions throughout the neighborhoods and on-site analysis informed the selection of 502 streets and 462 spaces to create a network in the identified area.
Network of Streets and Spaces—Underutilized spaces alongside and in-between the unaccepted streets, as well as connector streets linking the fragmented unaccepted streets were included to form a complete linear network traversable by foot. The full network covers 388 acres, increasing usable open space to 300 square feet per San Francisco resident.
Complexes + Connectors—9 complexes are defined as concentrations of streets and spaces located in-between neighborhoods that would provide strategic connections to the Blue Greenway, existing open spaces, and neighborhood centers. 26 connectors are identified between each complex and are crucial for developing network continuity and complete passageways. The connectors embody aspects of already envisioned city-led improvement projects and could create pedestrian passageways throughout the entirety of San Francisco.
Envisioned Complexes—The 101-280 Interchange and Islais Creek are envisioned as open space systems permeating the urban fabric to make numerous neighborhood connections.
San Francisco: A New Reality—Based on the existing condition typologies, the project developed a toolkit of program improvements for each type. The improvements vary on a scale ranging from community- to city-led initiatives. The toolkit provides a variety of methods for communities, groups, organizations, city agencies, and private affiliates to transform the unaccepted public realm of San Francisco.

With few remaining parcels available to provide public open space amenities for urban residents, this project proposes urban design strategies to transform San Francisco’s underutilized right-of-ways into an accessible open space network connecting the City and its communities to the Blue Greenway, to existing open space, and to each other. The project studied underutilized right-of-ways throughout the southeastern neighborhoods of San Francisco and their capacity to improve the public realm within this formerly neglect part of the city. Developed from extensive research, analysis, and fieldwork of unaccepted and paper streets forms of underutilized right-of-ways–the project suggests a transformation from an unimproved streetscape to a new form of urban open space, one that capitalizes on underutilized fragments and strategically pieces them together into pedestrian-friendly passageways permeating the city.