A NEW GUIDE TO BALANCING MOBILITY AND HUMANITY ON MAIN STREET
Case Studies 

Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

*Nominee 

Boeddeker Park

San Francisco

CA

USA

Contributed by 
Project for Public Spaces
 on 
January 7, 2002
December 14, 2017

2.6-acre park in a low-income neighborhood with a reliance on defensive design and a primary focus on use by children and families - factors that unintentionally turned the place into a battlefield

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Park was designed with safety and security in mind, but in all the wrong ways. It's cut off from the streets by fences and walls, and activity areas are also segregated in "open rooms" formed by six-foot fences. The main, bench-lined walkway through the park became known as "the Gauntlet" after it was colonized by drug dealers a year or so after the park's 1985 opening. Ultimately, accessibility was sacrificed in the name of safety, and the community decided the close the park in 1999. One entrance is permanently locked except for rare special occasions; the other is open only on a variable schedule. Loiterers simply moved to the sidewalk; the park is now an empty cage watched from outside by drug dealers and drug users.

The situation seems hopeless - as with so many other public spaces - but recommended remedies include:

promoting safety not with spikes, fences or video cameras, but with by promoting active use of the park and a tolerance for diversityaccommodating a wide range of uses without segregating them from one anotheroffering benches and ledges not as defensive structures but as inviting furnitureregarding trees as resources for children's play and shade - not obstacles to visibilitymaking lawns accessible grouns for social events and people-watching

Access & Linkages

Cut off from the street by fences and walls, and there are only two entrances, one of which is locked almost all of the time. The "open room" activity areas are accessible only by the main circulation path, which became known as the "gauntlet" when threatening people began to dominate.

Comfort & Image

Fences and walls meant to provide safety instead make the place feel like a cage - it's forbidding to walk into. Benches have metal dividers; trees were seen as obstacles to visibility and so are limited and not optimally sited.

Uses & Activities

Activity areas - a basketball court, play equipment, and areas of lawn, hard surfaces and benches - are limited and cut off from one another by six-foot fences. Designing with children and families in mind excluded other possibilities that could have been generated by the actual population of this very diverse neighborhood.

Sociability

When the park was not locked up, primary users tended to be drug dealers and loiterers; now it's simply empty except during approved hours and for approved users.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

Boedekker Park was developed in 1985 by landscape architects Ryston, Hanamoto, Alley & Abey (RHAA) of Marin County. A Save Boeddeker Park committee formed in the mid 1990s recommended a new playground and still more, higher fencing, which were installed in 1998. These design changes ignored the comments in a report from city park staff that stated the original design of the park was problematic in itself. Now, the role of staff at the park's recreation center is reduced to unlocking the park for visitors who have an approved reason to enter.

Related Links & Sources

Boeddeker Park
Main walkway became known as "the Gauntlet"
Boeddeker Park
Boeddeker Park
Community's ongoing efforts to make the park safer
Boeddeker Park
Boeddeker Park
Boeddeker Park
Boeddeker Park
Boeddeker Park

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

NOMINATE A PLACE

Corrections or additions? Email info@pps.org
Comments
Related Articles & Resources
No items found.

More Related Articles

A NEW GUIDE TO BALANCING MOBILITY AND HUMANITY ON MAIN STREET