Selected Project Pulse
Pulse. Concept art courtesy of the project team.

Danielle Aspitz



Retail Heart

Informed by the curves of the human body and aligned like the heartbeat of the city, Pulse hopes to bring about new meaning by providing opportunity for spontaneous social interaction.

Market Street, a constant flow of people, traffic, visions and ideas, is an ever-changing and prominent piece of San Francisco. While its identity and usage have changed dramatically over the years its importance within the city has remained the same. Market Street has a strong role in managing and directing the city flows and with this role comes a great social opportunity to capture these travelers and offer them a sense of place, community and connection.

As Hajer, Maarten and Arnold Reijndorp say in In Search of a New Public Domain, “[t]he core of successful public space thus lies not so much in the shared use of space with others, let alone in the ‘meeting’, but rather in the opportunities that urban proximity offers for a ‘shift’ of perspective: through the experience of otherness one’s own casual view of reality gets some competition from other views and lifestyles.”

The opportunity along Market Street is immense. San Francisco density is on the rise, and this street has become host to a broad range of users from all walks of life. Yet so rarely does one actually interact with a stranger, and consider that they might have anything in common, when even a brief conversation can prove that we are all alike in some way. Experiencing this underlying connectivity can offer a radical shift of perspective, and a whole new sense of place and understanding to the nuanced street-life and its vibrant users.

Within our social toolset, conversation is perhaps the most imperative means to communicate and connect with those around us. With each new encounter, it affords us the opportunity to interpret the world through fresh perspectives, and gain newfound personal clarity. Unfortunately, modern lifestyles and daily routines often generate distance from others and missed opportunities to connect and grow. Pulse is a response to this lack of communication between individuals and strangers within their society.

Informed by the curves of the human body and aligned like the heartbeat of the city and its inhabitants unified as one, Pulse reflects and responds to the role and potential Market Street holds to bring about new meaning and connection to its city. By providing ergonomic comfort and the ideal positioning for social interaction, Pulse encourages visitors to relax and disarm their social inhibitions. With a casual and inviting atmosphere, conversation is inevitable and spontaneous chance encounters become widely accessible.

Too often does the destination cloud the beauty of the journey. With this new platform for people to interact, laugh, smile, and communicate the whole environment surrounding this piece on Market Street transforms into a warm and social space. The sight of these interactions triggers our primal instincts and sympathetic identification. A sense of warmth radiates from each exchange as discovered passions, new perspectives, and refreshed personal goals come to light. This sense of connection creates a magnetic field and Pulse stands at its core drawing users to learn and discover their yearning desire to be recognized and connected within their community.

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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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