Harvey Milk Plaza Competition Seeks Submissions for Tribute Project

When San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk took his bullhorn and rallied crowds at the intersection of Market and Castro Streets in San Francisco, he inspired a generation and helped forge the LGBT civil rights movement, and now steps are underway to make this area a fitting tribute to both Milk and the gay rights movement with a reimaging of Harvey Milk Plaza, including an international competition to design the space.

The project has gained the support of those who knew Supervisor Milk. Author and activist Cleve Jones, who stood with Milk at rallies in the same plaza 40 years ago, expressed his enthusiasm and states, “Harvey understood that the LGBT community was part of something larger, and creating a tribute to him will inspire others to carry on the movement for peace and social justice.”

The Harvey Milk Plaza Competition is open for submissions through May 31, 2017, and the selected design will reimagine the space at the corner of Castro and Market as a LGBT and civil rights memorial and public gathering space by leveraging best practices in architectural, lighting, landscape, and memorial/public plaza design. Design teams should consider the economic and environmental challenges inherent to San Francisco and review the details gleaned from community meetings to influence and inspire final solutions.

“Harvey Milk was always pushing what is possible, bringing people together, and focusing on what we can do collectively to create change,” says Jennifer Jones, AIASF Executive Director. “That’s really what we’re doing with the design competition: sourcing ideas from architects and design teams who comprehend the challenges of the space, but, like Harvey, recognize that no challenge is insurmountable or outweighs the importance of creating a gathering space for a community.”

The Harvey Milk Plaza Design Competition is a partnership of the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza, the American Institute of Architects San Francisco Chapter (AIASF), the Center for Architecture + Design, San Francisco Public Works, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Art Commission. Initial funding of $500,000 from an anonymous donor will support the design competition and subsequent plaza development. Additional fundraising efforts are underway to secure the additional $10 million required for funding of the design, construction, and maintenance of the plaza.

“The city must redesign Harvey Milk Plaza and the Muni Metro station to comply with accessibility mandates,” Andrea Aiello, chair of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza, states. “With substantial work already underway, a coalition of local residents, community groups and stakeholders asked city leaders if the same construction project could reimagine the space as a fitting tribute to Milk and LGBT rights, and the city agreed, however we still have a substantial amount of fundraising to do in order to ensure the success of the project.”

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