First there were parklets, clearings placed on top of parking spaces. Then there was the Powell Street Promenade, a set of eight aluminum eddies that widen San Francisco’s busiest pedestrian thoroughfare.
Now say hello to “parkmobiles” - portable landscapes in red steel bins 6 feet wide and 16 feet long, intended as a shot of mobile nature offering passers-by visual relief from asphalt and concrete. There will be six such pieces arrayed on blocks around Yerba Buena Gardens, each with a different horticultural theme.
"We want each one to be showy and eye-catching, but also easy to maintain," said Calder Gillin of CMG Landscape Architecture, which conceived the bins for the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District.
This isn’t simply the latest twist on the parklet theme, which in the past year has moved from the city’s bohemian edge to its downtown core. The parkmobiles signal San Francisco’s most ambitious effort yet to improve the large, urban landscape in small, fluid ways - an effort set, tellingly, in a district that symbolizes old-school urban renewal.