Civic Design Review Committee - December 17, 2018 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
December 17, 2018 - 2:30pm
401 Van Ness, Suite 125
san francisco, CA 94102


Monday, December 17, 2018
2:30 p.m.
401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 125



Commissioner Kimberlee Stryker called the meeting to order at 2:30 p.m.

  1. Roll Call
    Commissioners Present
    Kimberlee Stryker
    Abby Schnair
    Paul Woolford
    Lydia So

    Commissioners Absent
    Dorka Keehn

    Staff Present
    Aleta Lee, Program Associate, Public Art Trust & Special Initiatives
    Rebekah Krell, Deputy Director of Cultural Affairs & CFO
  2. Public Comment
    John Goldsmith commented that he submitted a parklett application for the area adjoining Harvey Milk Plaza for SF Public Works and Art Commission review.

    Commissioner Stryker explained that the Art Commssion does not review parklett applications, but Aleta Lee would provide the contact information to direct them to the correct Commission that would review such requests.
  3. The New Harvey Milk Plaza Project: Phase #1
    Erich Burkhart, Justin Skoda, and McCall Wood, Project Designer, Perkins Eastman
    McCall Wood, Project Manager, Perkins Eastman
    Perkins Eastman, Architect, Perkins Eastman
    SWA, Landscape Architect, SWA

    The team shared their concept redesign in response to Commissioner and public comments from the last review. The new design reduced the scale of the canopy architecture near the Bank of America building, simplified the ground plane, shifted the stairs and escalator by ten to fifteen feet to create a larger plaza space, raised the sunken gardens, and simplified the overall design of the plaza for a more cohesive plan. The new design featured a freeform and undulating canopy framework as the main element of the plaza. This light, steel canopy framework is intended to support a commissioned artwork by a selected artist and act as an art canopy. The canopy stretched from the plaza area over the escalator and elevator and ended by the memorial gingko tree grove. The team suggested a few structural variations to accomplish the design, including a steel frame, faceted triangles, or tensile structure. Lastly, the team provided precedent images regarding the ideas for the art canopy, which include glass prisms and art light fixtures.

    The Committee thanked the team for responding to their comments and shared their excitement for the new proposed design that respects to the open space and incorporates an artists’ work. The Committee thought this was a great initial approach but recommended not introducing another geometry into the space. The Committee hoped to see a more simplified shape which would highlight the element of light. The Committee suggested that the team get a head start in beginning an RFQ to look for an artist and to work with Commissioner Dorka Keehn regarding the artist selection process. The Committee encouraged the team to create a strong design for the canopy, especially as the budget was still not clear. Moreover, the Committee commented that it was critical to work with an engineer and to figure out project funding to properly move forward.

Public Comment:

Desmond Morgan, a citizen in the neighborhood, commented that it was important to upgrade the plaza and have the caliber of San Francisco be represented in the plaza, especially as a tourist destination.

Tre Russell Allen of San Francisco LGBT Strategy, commented in favor of the new design and is really excited for the expansion of the plaza and memorial area below that would share the life of Harvey Milk.

Gary Virginia, a community leader, commented in support of the redesign. He commented that the design process has been transparent.

Matt Brezina commented that he opposes the full scale demolition, and instead suggested adapting the current space. He commented that the current plaza is a beacon of design and success, and if the concern is tourists then the nearby gas station should be fixed. He stated that the project would cause disruption of transit and a lot of construction waste.

Bonnie McGregor of San Francisco City Guides, commented in support of the new design. As a three-year participant in San Francisco City Guides he was dismayed to how people responded to the current site and said many articulated the plaza as an afterthought. He commented that ADA is an issue and sees people struggle routinely. He wondered about keeping the project in the hands of local architects in hopes of simplifying the process.

Ken Jones, local activist, commented on the hope of reimagining and reinvigorating the plaza into a fitting and lasting tribute to the site’s history and namesake. He stated that the current state of the plaza has many challenges and is not designed with public safety in mind. Therefore, he desires for the complete remodel and rebuild of the plaza to create a world-class memorial for Harvey Milk and the LGBTQ movement. 

Ron Wiggin of the Save Harvey Milk Plaza organization played a video of the current plaza. He shared that it was complete and beautiful, and is not in favor of the new design.

Paul Margolis of Our Town SF commented in support of the redesign of the plaza to turn it into a destination and a larger celebration of Harvey Milk that inspire locals and visitors.

Robin Abad of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza commented that there has been a long discussion of the problems and shortcomings of this site that currently do not meet the needs of the community and commuters. He saw this as an opportunity to rethink the site.

Howard Grant of Save Harvey Milk Plaza commented on respecting the integrity of the current architecture and respect for the history of the space. He stated that the project would impact the neighborhood and commuters and felt the plaza did not need to be destroyed to honor Harvey Milk.

Philip Carberry of Castro Ambassadors commented in favor of the design as he feels the current plaza is a tired station.

Ingu Yun of the Sundance Association commented in favor of the new design and thought the new design respected the current design now. He stated that he would like the plaza to be a more inviting and open space, along with a statue of Harvey Milk at the new plaza.

Nate Bourg, a neighborhood business owner, commented in favor of the new design and encouraged the project to move forward so that the project team could create something the community would be proud of.

Bob Goldfarb, current chair of the Leather and LGBTQ cultural district, commented in favor of the new design and thought it was a great plan to honor Harvey Milk, and make the plaza an international destination.

John Dennis of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza read a letter of support from Castro ambassadors, Mott Strong and Robert Waymack. The letter expressed their support for the rebuilding of Harvey Milk Plaza given the safety and user concerns.

Romwain Cunnolly, a business owner of the neighborhood, commented in favor of the new design and asked that the Committee approve this project.

John Goldsmith of Lavender Lane commented not in favor of the new design of the plaza. He stated that he had 700 signatures for a petition not wanting the rebuild of the Harvey Milk Plaza.

Alex Lemberg, a Castro resident, commented in favor of the new design since it would turn the current site into a public plaza. He wanted to see a space where the community could get together and gather.

David Hyman of Castro Ambassadors commented on being grateful for all the work and community input in this project and would like to have a beautiful, well designed plaza.

Darren Sears had specific comments on the design. He was curious to see how the different elements of the plaza would come together and have the same language to be a cohesive design. He hoped the flag and flag pole would be well integrated into the design.

Donna Sachet is in favor of the new design and thinks the project is an opportunity to majorly save the plaza. They asked to approve the proposal.

Cleve Jones commented in favor of the redesign of the plaza, especially as the current design is a safety issue. He asked that the Commissioners approve the project.

Harry Brenux of Save Harvey Milk Plaza commented not in favor of ripping the Harvey Milk Plaza apart, but stated that adjustments and upgrades need to be made.

Daniel Bergeral, a small business owner in Castro, read a letter of support from Sister Roma which wrote in support of the new plaza design to increase ADA accessibility and to provide the Castro a significant space to honor Harvey Milk.

Kent Mirkhani, a community member, asked the Commissioners for support of making their community more beautiful and to honor their historic figures.


The Committee felt that the art part of the current proposal was still undeveloped; however, agreed to provide approval for the other elements so that the team would be able move forward. The Committee reiterated that the project team needed to approach the design holistically to connect the entire plaza. They encouraged the team to take ownership of the design so it may be successful and not dependent on just the art component. The motion was unanimously approved as follows.

Motion to approve Phase #1 of the New Harvey Milk Plaza Project contingent upon 1) moving forward with developing the ground plane plans, ADA compliant codes, and exploration of the canopy, along with the art and artist’s role in its development, 2) approaching the ground landscape, vertical improvements, and structural elements holistically, and 3) addressing the topographical issues of the plaza.

  1. Eagle Plaza Project: Phase #3
    Mark Bonsignore, Project Manager, Place Lab SF
    Marcel Wilson, Landscape Architect, Bionic Landscape

    The team presented the current project timeline along with the ways they addressed the Commissioner’s comments from their last review. The team showcased their lighting plan and flag pole details that were reviewed and approved by Public Works. The team presented the updated planting plan and planting palette. They then reviewed the material sample and material palette. Lastly, the team mentioned that the developer tied to the plaza would have $40,000 set aside per year in their maintenance contract for the plaza’s maintenance and security. Friends of Eagle Plaza would also fundraise any additional necessary funding.

    The Committee asked the team what changes were made to the design and what were the updated drawings. The team shared that what has changed is the updated permit plans that were submitted. As for the other drawings, they are currently in process of being updated. Moreover, the drawing updates are only addressing minor comments from different city agencies that the team is correcting to get approval. The team stated that look and design of eagle plaza is finalized and nothing will change.

Public Comment:

David Hyman, who serves on the board of the San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance and active member of the LGBTQ cultural district, is in support of this project and felt Eagle Plaza was a significant space in the cultural district.


The motion was unanimously approved.

Motion to approve Phase #3 of the Eagle Plaza Project.

  1. Visual Arts Committee Update
    There was no Visual Arts Committee update.
  2. Staff Report
    There was no staff report.
  3. New Business and Announcements
    There was no new business and announcements.
  4. Adjournment 
    There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:43 p.m.
    posted  12/28/18, 1:20 p.m., akl
    approved 1/7/19


Language Accessibility

Translated written materials and interpretation services are available to you at no cost. For assistance, please notify Special Projects and Civic Design Review Program Associate Aleta Lee, 415-252-2251,

我們將為閣下提供免費的書面翻譯資料和口譯服務。如需協助,Special Projects and Civic Design Review Program Associate Aleta Lee, 415-252-2251,

Materiales traducidos y servicios de interpretación están disponibles para usted de manera gratuita. Para asistencia, notifique a Special Projects and Civic Design Review Program Associate Aleta Lee, 415-252-2251,

Ang mga materyales na nakasalin sa ibang wika at ang mga serbisyong tagapagsalin sa wika ay walang bayad. Para sa tulong, maaring i-contact si Special Projects and Civic Design Review Program Associate Aleta Lee, 415-252-2251,