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GSA opens newly remodeled plaza at the San Francisco Federal Building

December 14, 2021

New space offers a sustainable, welcoming place to gather

Some of the new plants at the plaza

SAN FRANCISCO ㅡ The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) opened the newly redesigned public plaza at the San Francisco Federal Building to the general public on December 15, 2021. The new space was designed with community and tenant input, offering a space that features gathering and seating spaces mixed with gardens planted with a native pollinator plant that attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

Key sustainability features of the plaza include native gardens, low-energy lighting, and permeable pavers in the plaza, as well as other best management practices that will filter and infiltrate stormwater. The new plaza has already received SITES certification, a sustainability-focused rating system for landscapes in the areas of soil, water, vegetation, materials, and human health.

A view of the newly renovated plaza

“GSA is leading by example in taking actionable steps to reduce the embodied carbon in design and construction projects,” said Public Buildings Service Regional Commissioner Dan Brown. “This new plaza will not only benefit the environment, but will create a new safe space for public gatherings and education.”
The new space was designed by Meghen Quinn, Principal landscape architect with Hargreaves Jones, a small, woman-owned landscape architecture firm.

“The new plaza’s design respects and takes inspiration from the folding planes of the Federal Building’s roof canopy which are translated into two landforms on the ground,” said Quinn. “With community-driven priorities of creating gardens, a buffer from the busy adjacent streets, and the potential for small events or farmers markets, these landforms frame a new plaza creating a central place for gathering and that will anchor the Federal Building and café.”

In November, GSA formalized a partnership with the Demonstration Gardens, an environmental literacy and advocacy organization based in San Francisco’s downtown neighborhoods, to build on this design effort and lead activation and programming of the rejuvenated plaza. Public activities will begin in January.

“Already we are seeing tremendous excitement from plaza neighbors about all the art, citizen science and community-based education we can create together,” said Kasey Rios Asberry, Executive Director of the Demonstration Gardens. “Through deep partnerships with the Association of the Ramaytush Ohlone, the City of San Francisco, residents of the Tenderloin and SoMa, and numerous expressive arts and community organizations, we look forward to seeing the Federal Plaza emerge as a center for environmental justice; Living Waters that reflect all the liveliness and diversity of our surrounding communities.”

The new plaza has been in the making for three years. In 2018, GSA identified the plaza as an opportunity to improve the safety and security of the plaza, while also creating a more welcoming space for the local community. Public workshops followed in 2019. In 2020, GSA awarded a design-build contract to local, woman-owned small business Ironwood Commercial Builders, in partnership with Hargreaves Jones, to design and construct the new space.


About GSA: GSA provides centralized procurement for the federal government, managing a nationwide real estate portfolio of nearly 370 million rentable square feet and overseeing approximately $75 billion in annual contracts. GSA’s mission is to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services across government, in support of the Biden-Harris administration’s priorities. For more information, visit GSA.gov and follow us at @USGSA.

About the Demonstration Gardens: The Demonstration Gardens generates landscapes, training programs, resources and experiences designed to help explore and engage with the physical environment we live in, at the neighborhood scale.

Last Reviewed: 2021-12-16