NOW Hunters Point
Role:Designer, Spatial Justice Strategist
For much of its history, San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point has been home to many industrial uses, including a power plant. In 2006, community lobbying helped lead to its closure and its owner, Pacific Gas & Electric, worked with the community to undertake a process of remediation. Now it’s time to begin the site’s next chapter. To capture what can be wanted and loved by the community, we have embraced an interactive community engagement process as the catalyst for the design. The neighborhood is incredibly diverse, containing a historical African-American community, a still active industrial workforce, an artist community, and a growing middle class community among others. Through early conversations with community members, it became clear that this is an area rich in stories but with too few outlets that honor and share them. Cognizant of this as well as seeking ways to support people to visualize a new future we created a space that allows for tangible acts of listening and visioning. In partnership with local organizations, and under the program NOW Hunters Point, the site has been designed to function as a space for interim placekeeping and placemaking. It serves as a platform for multiple programs that can test what can ultimately be on the site from collaborations with StoryCorps, a national storytelling project, to Circus Bella, a local community circus, to Question Bridge, a world renowned art project created by artist Chris Johnson. And during the pandemic, the project has shifted to rapid response work, providing food access (through partnerships with the SF Produce Market and the SF/Marin Food Bank), COVID testing (in partnership with the San Francisco Department of Health), and other needed resources. In March 2017, the first permanent piece of the project, a new public access shoreline trail – the design of which was guided by the conversations and activation that have occurred as part of NOW Hunters Point – opened to the public, providing direct access to the shoreline and a model of what a community-inspired and informed project could look like. From 7 years of dynamic programming to walking the shoreline, over 25,000 people have done something on the site that, we hope, has changed their relationship and charted better opportunities for the future.