Mint Plaza 

Community Spaces

San Francisco


Project Details

Mint Plaza’s contemporary design respects its historic context while also providing a flexible public place that brings the surrounding community together.

Mint Plaza transformed a neglected city-owned alleyway in downtown San Francisco into a vibrant public pedestrian plaza and festival space. The design was predicated on three principals: Provide an open and unobstructed field to accommodate the widest variety of uses.
Provide a sustainable infrastructure prototype for the City of San Francisco that simply and economically captures and treats all of the site rain water. Provide an identity for the new landscape that is sensitive to yet distinct from the surrounding historic buildings.

Since its completion in 2007, Mint Plaza has become a model of adaptive public space design and a successful example of converting an automobile-focused and previously unsafe alley into pedestrian only civic space. As a result, Mint Plaza now supports various public gatherings–from weekly food trucks and markets to seasonal concert series and dance performances–and enhances the neighborhood’s public image.

In 2010, Mint Plaza was awarded an EPA Smart Growth Award for Civic Spaces.

Amenities + Features

An integral component of the thriving Mid-Market neighborhood, Mint Plaza is a special kind of public open space, designed to serve a variety of users. First and foremost, it is a community gathering spot – a green space to take a break, sit outdoors, enjoy lunch, or chat with friends. Mint Plaza is also an exciting cultural venue, a place to experience a diversity of art and music, free to the public. Uniquely urban, the Plaza is framed on three sides by beautifully restored historic architecture, and lined with cafés and restaurants, including Blue Bottle Café, 54 Mint Ristorante, Burma Club, and Hashiri offering both indoor and outdoor dining.

Design + Sustainability

• Striking steel arbor with flowering trumpet vines
• Sleek stone promenades
• 20’ native oak tree, Ginkgo grove, rain gardens
• Soaring 40’ mast lights
• Integrated bench seating, and orange movable chairs
• Innovative storm-water management system captures runoff from the Plaza to feed two rain gardens and an underground infiltration system


• Northern California Chapter Small Firms, Great Projects, American Institute of Architects (AIA)
• General Design, Merit Award, American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
• Beautification Award, San Francisco Beautiful
• National Award for Smart Growth: Civic Spaces, US Environmental Protection Agency, recognizing the Plaza’s sustainable design and best management practices.


Integrative, inclusive design.