SAN FRANCISCO'S EMBARCADERO CENTER

March 27, 2015

During a brief visit to San Francisco today and I found myself with 10 minutes to spare before Bill Stout's book shop opened its doors. So, I walked to the Embarcadero Center to take in one of my favorite urban spaces. 

 

Bisecting the Center are 3 levels of public promenades, or walkways, 2 of them suspended between the Center's retail and office tower buildings. The public ways cut through the center of four blocks and work their way down to Embarcadero Plaza. Canted facades on the Center's buildings accentuate the difference between the building walls and the elevated walks. The walks stitch together the Center's retail elements but also connect its towers. The walks bridge street crossings and terminate in sweeping concrete stairways. The ramp near the Hyatt is most memorable (not pictured here, so go see it for yourself!). The Center is designed by John Portman and constructed mostly in the decade of the 70's.

 

I think it's worth revisiting the Center and taking a closer look. These public spaces and stacked linear promenades are quite wonderful and ahead of their time urbanistically, but also in terms of their material and detail. This is urban design worth consideration and still full of opportunity.

 

 

 

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