Last year, the Helen Diller Family Foundation, the Trust for Public Land, and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department joined forces to give some much-needed love to the iconic space in front of San Francisco City Hall. With a desire to transform the space and bring the community together, the Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds were born.
Featuring slides, swings, and a climbing structure that doubles as a trampoline, the new playgrounds provide a safe and whimsical experience for San Francisco families. The Playgrounds also feature an after-dark interactive lighting installation that not only encourages fun long after the sun sets but brings a sense of safety to a formerly troubled neighborhood.
Add in San Francisco favorite Bi-Rite café for affordable and sustainable food options, organized group activities like Zumba, soccer and bocce ball – and the Playgrounds have become a destination for the young and young at heart. Since it’s opening, the Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds has brought new life to the Civic Center neighborhood, welcoming over 14,000 children and driving down the area’s violent crime by 14%.
Inspired by Bay Area weather patterns, the structures take their cues from fog and clouds, encouraging children to create their own adventures as they wind their way through the sky. The artful approach to playground design has brought recognition including the 2019 Kirby Ward Fitzpatrick Prize, the 2019 Merit Award for Design, Parks, Recreation, Trails, the 2019 Ideas Award for sculpture, installation, or non-building structure, the Landezine Award for Public Landscapes, and the 2017 Beautification Award for Knitting the Commons.
This project is close to the heart for our CEO, Jackie Safier (who also serves as President of the Helen Diller Family Foundation). The Playgrounds are a tribute to her mother, Helen Diller, a native San Franciscan who believed in continual optimism and joy. These Playgrounds are an embodiment of that joy and optimism, with care and thought woven into every aspect of the playgrounds by the project team. The Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds would not be what it is without the hard work of Andie Cochran Landscape Architecture, the Trust for Public Land, San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, Anticlockwise Arts, Kompan, Bi-Rite, Robert A. Bothman and the Helen Diller Family Foundation. The hope is that many children and families will feel the warmth and dedication as they enjoy this addition to the city landscape. What comes from the heart, is received from the heart.
If you haven’t visited the Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds yet, make a stop in the new year. It is a place for people to come together, eat, and above all things – play.