Improving quality-of-life in the first public housing in San Francisco’s Chinatown
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DETAILS

LocationSan Francisco, California United States
ClientChinatown Community Development Center/Gelfand Partners Architects
Size5 acres (four sites)

The San Francisco public housing projects known as “pings” are widely viewed as successful. Part of this success is a direct result of their ties with the wider Chinatown community: they are comparatively low-crime, and their tenants are well-organized. Composed of four buildings with 434 units, 2,000+ residents, and five acres of landscape, the Pings are a part of a complex web of social, cultural, and historical constructs – but due to a long period of mismanagement, corruption, and wear and tear since the 1950s, they had fallen into disrepair. SWA’s landscape improvements are part of a $64M refurbishment that strategically allocates resources for the greatest impact on residents’ quality-of-life. The design is driven by three key principles: dignity, the sense of home, and an environment that supports shared activity.  Unconventional, gardenesque plantings, residential furnishings, and natural materials dramatically shift the space toward these principles and away from a previously “institutional” aesthetic. Spear-pointed entry gates were removed, while the addition of front porches, outdoor living rooms, a playground, and three large community gardens make the landscape a shared amenity and a framework for enabling community.

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