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Case Studies 

Market Street Prototyping

San Francisco



Contributed by 
Project for Public Spaces
November 23, 2015
December 22, 2017

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

The idea for Market Street Prototyping Festival began when San Francisco’s urban planning department, in partnership with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Knight Foundation, invited the community to propose ideas for improving the public space along San Francisco’s central Market Street thoroughfare. Ideas came from individuals, local businesses, nonprofits and design firms in the area. The top 50 candidates were then supplied with funding, groups of volunteers, and experts from companies such as Autodesk, the Exploratorium, Gehl Studio, California College of the Arts, and the Studio for Urban Projects, to help fabricate and install their prototype public space interventions. The end products were presented during a three-day festival in April 2015 along a mile of Market Street. Proposals were visited by around 300,000 passersby who engaged with and interacted with the installations. Visitors, for instance, were greeted with ping-pong tables, a mini-library, a pop-up street museum, art installations, a tiny house, swings, exercise playgrounds, and more. The 300,000 visitors reported back to organizers with their impressions of the event. The festival was held again in 2016 and currently, festival leadership is focusing on incubating several projects for the long-term.  

The Market Street Prototyping Festival took full advantage of the creativity and knowledge of the public. It looked to the users of Market Street as the experts on how to improve the places they know best. The event also provided much needed time to pilot some of the solutions for the space, such that the prototypes act as placeholders for more comprehensive plans. The event also worked as a venue for bringing together a variety of  people in the community, where local makers interacted with volunteers, businesses or simply passersby lending their opinion during the day of the event.

Access & Linkages

Comfort & Image

Uses & Activities


How Light?

Since the festival lasted for such a brief amount of time, candidates used a range of materials that were typically light in nature: movable, recycled, and repurposed.

How Quick?

The festival lasted three days.

How Cheap?

Each of the 50 candidates was supplied with $2,000 to create their interventions.

History & Background

Related Links & Sources

Photo credits, from left: Market Street Prototyping via Facebook, Market Street Prototyping via website, Idontkaren via Flickr, Market Street Prototyping via website, Market Street Prototyping via website, Market Street Prototyping via website

Website: marketstreetprototyping.org

Facebook: facebook.com/MarketStreetPrototyping


Market Street Prototyping
San Franciscans proposed their intervention ideas and were then paired with design and fabrication experts
Market Street Prototyping
How about having a place for 15 minute adventures on the street?
Market Street Prototyping
Ping-pong tables bring play to the street
Market Street Prototyping
Market St Prototyping ideas covered a lot of ground, including this pop-up library
Market Street Prototyping
Allowing the community to lead the design process can lead to truly creative outcomes
Market Street Prototyping
Market Street Prototyping
Market Street Prototyping

*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.


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