Atelier Cho Thompson
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MSPF Community Prototype


Client: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts & San Francisco Planning Department

Services: Architecture, Signage & Wayfinding, Environmental Graphics

Atelier Cho Thompson was honored to have been selected to design the Community Prototype for the Market Street Prototyping Festival in San Francisco. Working closely with a Think Tank of community groups, we designed a pavilion to serve the neighborhood of Central Market.

Through four Idea Labs, including extensive workshops and a walking tour, the Think Tank provided invaluable, street-level knowledge about the social ecosystem of Central Market. Their comments about existing conditions, challenges, and opportunities on the sidewalks of the Central Market District were based on their intimate knowledge of the area’s physical, social and cultural landscape. Their discussions on this topic helped shape their own idea for a community based prototype entitled “Swallowtail.”

The concept behind the Swallowtail was inspired by Western tiger swallowtail habit found along Market Street, which coexists within the hustle and bustle of Market Street. New developments on along Market Street now make an extensive effort to preserve this habitat. This installation was an allegory for how any future progress or development must similarly honor and respect the people and organizations of Central Market. The prototype’s design incorporated elements such as wayfinding and storytelling. Swallowtail was extensively programmed to host events such as voter registration, spoken word performances, screenprinting, and more. Visitors were prompted on butterfly-shaped notes--"what is your hope for the future?" The canopy became populated with hundreds of such notes alongside windchimes, which provided an aural wayfinding device to the pavilion.

Featured in the AIA's 2017 Emerging Professionals Exhibit.

Our sincere thanks to the ThinkTank Members without whom this project would not be possible: United PlayazWalkSFMayor's Office of DisabilityLighthouse for the BlindHoly Stitch Denim Social ClubLarkin Street Youth ServicesHospitality HouseLuggage Store GallerySkywatchersSAFEhouse ArtsDe Marillac AcademyWildflowers InstituteUrban Place Consulting GroupTenderloin Community Benefit DistrictTenderloin Housing ClinicCentral City SRO CollaborativeSoMa PilipinasSenior and Disability Action, and CounterPulse.