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San Francisco Planning Department - City Design Group

The San Francisco Planning Department’s City Design Group works to improve San Francisco’s livability through concern for the physical qualities of the city. Its goal is to recognize the positive qualities of San Francisco’s built environment and its relationship with the natural setting, and to create and foster initiatives that build upon these qualities in ways that strengthen the city’s sense of place.

All great cities are for people, and the City Design Group’s purpose is to enhance San Francisco's status as a truly great city. It will do this by advocating the human dimension as central to city design and design of the public realm.

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Built Environment

Perhaps the single most important component of the City’s strong sense of place is the relationship of San Francisco's built environment to its spectacular setting. Sense of place is strengthened when changes to the built environment balance this relationship. Three-dimensional form of the city and its skyline, the relationship of city scale to human scale, and good building design are the subjects of good city design. Recognizing and fostering a balance among these assets is a foremost focus of the City Design Group’s work.

Public Realm

The public realm is much more than a utilitarian system of connections to get from here to there. It is where people walk, meet, and socialize. It is where they take in the views, where they see what merchants have to offer, and where they come to know their neighborhood and their fellow citizens. The public realm connects us socially and economically. It can even be a place where people play. The public realm is the setting for civic life, and whether it is safe or dangerous, a place to spend time in or to avoid, determines the kind of civic life San Franciscans enjoy. In its public realm design, the City Design Group seeks to balance all the functions of a street, to make San Francisco’s public realm a truly gracious civic space, and to put people and the quality of place foremost.


spacer David Alumbaugh, Manager

spacer Joshua Switzky, Built Environment Lead

spacer Adam Varat, Public Realm Design Lead

spacer Neil Hrushowy, Urban Designer

spacer Andres Power, Urban Designer

spacer Nick Perry, Urban Designer

spacer Ilaria Salvadori, Urban Designer

spacer Amnon Ben-Pazi, Urban Designer

© 2009 San Francisco Planning Department

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