The Balboa Reservoir Design Standards and Guidelines has won the 2021 Award of Excellence in Urban Design from the Northern California Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA CA Northern).

The master plan, co-designed with Van Meter Williams Pollack Architecture | Urban Design and GLS Landscape/Architecture and developed in partnership with AvalonBay Communities and BRIDGE Housing, reimagines 17 acres of underutilized City of San Francisco land adjacent to City College of San Francisco as a model sustainable community. Through extensive community and stakeholder engagement, the planning team articulated a vision for a new 1,100-residence community, including 550 units dedicated for affordable/workforce housing, 150 units for CCSF teachers and faculty, four acres of public open space, a community center and a childcare center, all a block from the Ocean Avenue commercial corridor and within walking distance of Muni and the Balboa Park BART station.

Utilized as surface parking for the last 30 years, the site is controlled by the SF Public Utilities Commission and has been the subject of several past attempts by the City to develop housing. The master plan will create a bold, distinct sense of space at the juncture of five communities where landscape and architecture will work together to connect residents to the natural setting and link the surrounding commercial, residential, and institutional uses around a new Reservoir Park. Key components of the plan resulted directly from community guidance, including the level of affordability, scale and activation of public open space, the stepped-down building scale adjacent to single-family neighbors, pedestrian orientation, and commitment to sustainability.

In August 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Balboa Reservoir project as proposed. Site work is anticipated to begin later in 2021, with Phase 1 completion in 2025.

Earlier this month, APA CA Northern announced the master plan as the recipient of an Award of Excellence for the Urban Design category – the sole award of its kind for this awards cycle. The category honors efforts to create a sense of place, with evaluation criteria including Originality and Innovation; Compatibility; Effectiveness and Results; and Engagement. The planning team will be resubmitting the project for the statewide APA awards later in the year.

The full document can be accessed from the San Francisco Planning website.

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