Announcing Selected Projects for 2016 Market Street Prototyping Festival

Glimmer concept art courtesy of the project team.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), in partnership with the San Francisco Planning Department, announces the selection of 30 prototypes to be on display as part of the 2016 Market Street Prototyping Festival. Artists, activists, and members of the community were invited to submit prototype concepts to turn Market Street, San Francisco’s grand pedestrian boulevard, into a more engaging and vibrant destination. Spanning three districts—Central Market, Retail Heart, and Embarcadero—the festival will feature prototypes by veteran and emerging designers who are passionate about community, art, innovation, and redesigning public space.

30 engaging and innovative installations will be on display during three-day festival October 6–8, 2016.

The selected prototypes range from performance spaces to play zones to dynamic art pieces, and all of them aim to inspire community engagement. Temporary installations include a Pop-up Forest by Friends of the Urban Forest that will create a uniquely immersive “forest” experience and engage passersby in a dialogue about trees, adjacent neighborhoods, and the larger city. The Nature Library Cart is a portable treasure chest/urban oasis for people of all ages to discover, touch, and explore, created by designers Damien Raffa of the Presidio Trust; Zach Pine, a socially engaged environmental artist; and Mary Roscoe of the Children in Nature Collaborative. The Zero Waste Trading and Mending Cart, designed by social practice artist Alexandra Nicole Solis-Sison, is a mobile pop-up that offers sustainable alternatives for environmentally friendly and low-income shoppers. StreetSpeak.SF by Restart [your city] is a collaborative platform that engages strangers through storytelling in an effort to build a broad and unique community. And Inside Out Dance Studio, designed by Alonzo King LINES Ballet, is intended to raise awareness of the arts and encourage people to explore their own movement. Click here for the complete list of prototypes and the teams behind them.

Deborah Cullinan, YBCA’s CEO remarks: “The Market Street Prototyping Festival asks, ‘Who gets to design the future of urban life?’ It’s everyday citizens who can help create a more welcoming, engaging public space for the diverse people who live and work along Market Street. The success of last year’s festival proved how we can revolutionize traditional city planning processes with ideas that spark connection, empathy, and joy for all of our city’s residents. We’ve inspired a number of other prototyping festivals—from Palo Alto, California, to Perth, Australia, and most recently St. Paul, Minnesota—making it clear that we’re changing the way the world is thinking about civic engagement and city planning. With the continued support of the San Francisco Planning Department, and inspiring work by dedicated and talented artists, we’re making a major contribution to San Francisco’s future.”

Adds Neil Hrushowy, Manager, City Design Group, from the San Francisco Planning Department: “The Prototyping Festival allows all those who are passionate about our city to engage in the civic process and provide hands-on contributions to solving our community’s biggest challenges. We’ve selected a number of teams to make a more connected, playful, and inviting Market Street. I can’t wait to see how the street comes alive in October.”

New this year to the festival is the launch of the Urban Prototyping Research Lab, which will incubate up to 10 projects from the 2015 festival for redeployment and semi-permanent installation for up to two years. Led by Gray Area and Autodesk, selected teams will work at the Grand Theater for a six-month research and development iterative program. During this process, insights will be gathered to facilitate permanent and semi-permanent adoption of prototypes by city and neighborhood stakeholders.

The festival is partnering with Youth Art Exchange to lead a design and architecture internship for 14 high school students from across San Francisco to create a prototype for the 2016 Festival. The festival is also collaborating with a Central Market think tank of community stakeholders who will work with a design firm to build a community prototype in the highest-populated area of the festival route. These projects will be installed on Market Street as some of the 30 selected prototypes.

The Market Street Prototyping Festival builds upon a larger effort to redesign Market Street. Since 2011, multiple city agencies have focused their attention on improving and enhancing Market Street’s public space through the Better Market Street project, a five-year, multiagency effort led by San Francisco Public Works to improve and enhance San Francisco’s civic backbone.


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The Market Street Prototyping Festival is a collaboration between the San Francisco Planning Department and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

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