With wanting to change the entire layout, structure, and functionality of the Castro station, comes push back from a major voice to the neighborhood.
Howard Grant, an architect who designed the current Castro Station and Harvey Milk Plaza in the 1970s, told Hoodline he wasn't aware of the international design competition and was disappointed that the American Institute of Architects didn’t reach out to him.
Grant shares many opinions about the considered redesign and argues with the tone being set by Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza, particularly when the organization uses words like “hallowed” and “sacred” to describe the public space.
Grant even added, “they’re trying to make it seem like this area is sacred, but Harvey wasn’t in that area—it was fenced off for construction in the mid-1970s. His friend Cleve Jones doesn’t even have a memory that Harvey led a rally from that corner.”
So the plot thickens, as the station solely benefits the MUNI riders and the connections made everyday (i.e 20,000 riders a day), Grant believes that the proposed design will not go into place. “Inevitably what will happen,” he said, “is the neighbors will be up in arms. I see lawsuits. And with the bureaucratic inevitability of the SF Arts Commission, Public Works and community meetings, I think it will take care of itself.”
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And yes, it looks a lot of like Times Square.
Led by New York-based Perkins Eastman, the redesign aims to turn the corner of Castro and Market into a metaphorical soapbox and community space that creates a slanted amphitheater over the Castro Station’s southern entrance.
As the space itself see's celebration, activism, tourism, and locals on an hourly basis, the amphitheater could conduct people onto one platform that is safe, contained, and easily accessible.
The amphitheater will be set within a field of LED candles, an apparent nod to the hundreds of candlelight vigils that have been hosted at the intersection over the decades, including the night Milk was assassinated in 1978. The light features will be an important fundraising opportunity for the plaza: donors will reportedly be able to purchase one of the permanent vigil candles and have it engraved with their names and a quote.
Though no plans are set in stone for any sort of construction, fundraising would need to go into effect starting later next year. In the meantime (and for the next few years), the intersection will continue to be lit up by the six abstract LED dandelions towering 13 feet over Jane Warner Plaza, and will soon feature a temporary installation called "Harvey's Halo" that will beam up 15 colored lights from the top of the SoulCycle building.
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