Helen Diller Civic Center Playground

Award Category: Sculpture/Installation/Non-Building Structure 

The Helen Diller Civic Center Playground, a design collaboration between Andrea Cochran Landscape Architects and Endrestudio Architects & Engineers, features three expressive steel play structures that were inspired by the often mercurial weather patterns of San Francisco: Fog Valley lopes slowly along the ground, Lenticular Cloud creates a layered world of blue mesh nets, and Sky Punch spirals up above the park in an open helical sweep. 

The structures emerged through a synthesis of parametric form exploration, circulation strategy, and fundamental geometric principles. In this way, the forces are resolved through form rather than solely relying on strength of materials. The pieces were fabricated and powder coated offsite and assembled on an aggressive schedule. To facilitate this, a bolted splice connection was designed that could be used with a range of curvatures for each structure.

"Learning while playing through real-life 3D structural diagrams! I will not see playgrounds the same way again." —judge Filo Castore

At night the park’s focus shifts to the nearly 70 “pixel poles”— stainless steel posts with built-in LED display caps that are centrally controlled and fully programmable. The poles glow, flicker and dance, joining in the hum and buzz of an evening at the Civic Center.

Owners: The Trust for Public Land, San Francisco; City of San Francisco Recreation and Parks, San Francisco
General Contractor: Robert A. Bothman Construction, Santa Clara, Calif.
Architects: Endrestudio, Emeryville, Calif.; Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, San Francisco
Structural Engineer: Endrestudio, Emeryville, Calif.
Consultant: Anticlockwise Arts, Oakland, Calif.

  • Project Category: Year 2019
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Award Winner Year: 2019
  • Year Completed: 2018
  • Submitting Firm: Endrestudio
  • Photo Credit: 1-4 - Luke Downen; 5 - Mathias Krause