The American Planning Association (APA) has named 30 Great Places across the US. The thirty are divided into Great Neighborhoods, Great Streets, and Great Public Spaces. And prominent in that last category is our very own Ferry Building, one of the marquee projects of our new Preservation + Adaptive Reuse practice.
The APA webpage describes Great Places as the streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces "where people want to be... defined by many criteria, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement." When all those aspects fall into place and work together, the result is a place of "exemplary character... the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place."
The Ferry Building is described by the APA as "the quintessential picture of elegance." The building has a storied history — from bustling hub to defunct relic hidden behind a freeway to rebirth as the home of the city's favorite foodie market. Its new use and usability — as envisioned, designed, and made manifest by Cathy Simon, Andrew Wolfram, John Long, and the rest of their team — have achieved much more than just rehabilitating a grand old lady of the waterfront. With 10,000 commuters passing through and tens of thousands more flocking to the farmers market three days a week, not to mention the tourists who put it at the top of their must-see lists, the Ferry Building is central to life in San Francisco.
Or, as SF Planning Director Byron Rhett told the APA, "It's not just an icon anymore. People are using the building again."
Iconic design paired with real ongoing public value. That is certainly a good way to define a Great Place.