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Joe DiMaggio Park Renovation
Lizzy Hirsch, Landscape Architect, San Francisco Public Works City and County of San Francisco



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The 2-acre park, originally called the North Beach Playground, is at the junction of Columbus Avenue and Lombard Street in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, which has only one-fifth of the open space recommended for urban areas.



San Francisco's Joe DiMaggio Playground, originally called the North Beach Playground, is located in the northeast corner of the city, one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the U.S., having one fifth of the open space recommended for urban areas. The 2-acre park at the junction of Columbus Avenue and Lombard Street is part of a vital neighborhood community hub that includes the playground (tennis, basketball, softball, bocce and children's play area), a library branch, an indoor public pool and a recreation clubhouse.



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Redevelopment of San Francisco's Joe DiMaggio Playground begun in 1999 with the renovation and reconfiguring of the indoor pool and pool building. The old library was demolished and a new library 60% larger went up on an adjacent corner plot. That move caused closure of a block of city street to allow direct connection between the library, the pool and park complex. The central playground green was the final phase of this 16-year project.



The project's time line begun in 1999, included significant renovation and reconfiguration of the pool and its building; demolition of the library and construction of a new facility on an adjacent site; and the closure of a block of city street to allow direct connection of the library to the pool and park complex. The playground project was the final phase of this 16-year effort.

It was one of the first playgrounds funded by the San Francisco Playground Commission in the early 1900s. In the 1950s the 2-acre parcel was entirely covered in asphalt and chopped up into courts, preventing passage through the space. The recent renovation upgraded the playground to a modern state of the art park with better sightlines and adjacencies; a large increase in permeable surfaces and planted areas and significantly more features and amenities. The renovation produced a more attractive and ecological park and its layered uses make the park better able to serve the thousands of residents who live nearby and the thousands of visitors who pass through the neighborhood annually.



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Redevelopment of San Francisco's Joe DiMaggio Playground begun in 1999 with the renovation and reconfiguring of the indoor pool and pool building. The old library was demolished and a new library 60% larger went up on an adjacent corner plot. That move caused closure of a block of city street to allow direct connection between the library, the pool and park complex. The central playground green was the final phase of this 16-year project.


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The 37% reduction in hardscapes allowed augmenting the landscape with drought tolerant plants (e.g., 'Gold Velvet' kangaroo paws; 'Greenlee Form' fescue; Autumn Moor grass; 'Jurred Rasperry' cordyline; diorama 'cosmos'; "Munstead' lavender; 'Soft Caress' mahonia; orange libertia; and Berkeley sedge), and 60 trees (Mediterranean fan and king palms, 'Princeton Sentry' gingko bloba, crabapples and 'Shawn Hill' olive trees). Rain gardens filter and reduce stormwater runoff. 
LEDs replaced the old site lighting, resulting in less glare. Concrete from the park demolition was repurposed as retaining and seat wall blocks.



The successful completion of the project required intense coordination between the recreation and parks, public works and planning departments. It required review and approvals stretching over many years, involving library and historical preservation commissions, the Metropolitan Transportation Board and approvals from the Police and Fire Departments. The final realization is a testament to significant leadership and collaboration between public agencies and the community at large.

Environmental Considerations
Construction adhered strictly to environmental regulations and policies, including the Maher Ordinance. The contractor complied with a strict dust control protocol and approved processing and disposal guidelines and submitted the following plans: erosion and sediment control; storm water pollution; soils management; air monitoring; noise control; and a dust control plan.



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Adjacent to the 5' raised tennis courts is the tower climbing structure, which leads to the embankment slides and the open green's play pieces: net structure, spinners, swings and see-saw. The playground meets all ADA accessibility and playground
safety requirements. Bike parking was also added.



Adverse Conditions
Despite testing and review prior to construction, a hazardous asbestos asphalt layer of varying depths required revising the grading plan and implement an overlay treatment in lieu of removal and placing 
in a landfill. This tremendously reduced the amount of hazardous material and the project costs. The large-scale sports lighting poles were rusted below grade and had to be replaced rather than retrofitted.



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One of the focal play pieces on the park's playground is a large 'Net Play' climber from Berliner, which is situated on synthetic grass (Tot Turf) below the amphitheater. Mediterranean fan and King palms abound on the west side of the park


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Never fear, North Beach, the bocce courts are still in the park next to the upgraded and renovated 1910 pool and clubhouse building, but now augmented by a new picnic area beneath an olive grove.



Project Highlights
- Successful multiple public agency cooperation over 16 years.
- Community support throughout the work (37 public meetings). 

- Increased open space by 7,500 sq. ft. in one of the densest residential areas in the U.S. 

- Closed one street section to create a pedestrian greenway and link the library and park. 

- Integrated sustainable design principals throughout the park, adding 60 trees and reducing 37% 
of the hardscape. 

- Provided direct links to the library, pool and clubhouse, creating a vibrant neighborhood nexus that 
serves all age groups from toddlers to seniors. 

- Excellent collaboration between design team/construction management team. 

- Project was completed earlier than scheduled completion date. 

- Project was recognized for "Project of the Year" for under $5 million from Northern California APWA 


Joe Di Maggio Playground Team
Dawn Kamalanathan, Capital Program Manager, San Francisco Recreation and Parks
Cara Ruppert, Project Manager, San Francisco Recreation and Parks

San Francisco Public Works Design Team
Lizzy Hirsch, Landscape Architect
Gabriel Meil, Design Associate
Andrea Alfonso, Design Associate
Will Kwan, Architect
Thomas Roitman, Structural Engineer
Steven Lee, Electrical Engineer
Reza Baradaran, Geotechnical Engineer
Carmen Ynami, Site Assessment and Remediation Dennis Oates, Construction Manager
Ruby Yu, Resident Engineer

Contractor
Bauman Landscape and Construction

Play equipment
School Age Structure: Hags
Net Play Structure: Berliner
Fish: UPC Parks

Synthetic Turf
Tot Turf



As seen in LASN magazine, March 2018.






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November 15, 2018, 6:04 pm PST

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