SF Rec & Park Breaks Ground on $10 Million Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Recreation & Park Department, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Helen Diller Family Foundation, is proud to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Civic Center Historic District. The Helen Diller Family Foundation has generously donated $10 million to fund the construction of these two vibrant state-of-the-art playgrounds. Members of the Foundation, Trust for Public Land, City officials, and members of the public, joined SF Rec & Park in a groundbreaking ceremony today. The gift of these playgrounds served as a catalyst for a renewed focus on improving and activating Civic Center and the surrounding area .


“Helen Diller was a park lover and a champion for children and families in San Francisco,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “Her memory lives on through many of our City’s parks and playgrounds, and that legacy will now include the Civic Center Plaza Playgrounds. I want to commend the Helen Diller Family Foundation for their commitment to San Francisco, and I want to thank the Trust for Public and Land, and the Recreation and Parks Department for their continued efforts to improve green and open space in the City.”


The existing playgrounds at Civic Center Plaza are approximately 20 years old and in need of renovation and improvement. They are in an area where open space is limited for residents of the Tenderloin, Civic Center, Hayes Valley and South of Market neighborhoods. Because of their unique location, they also serve children attending nearby daycare centers, schools, and children who are visiting the Civic Center as part of their education. With the increase of population density in the Civic Center neighborhood, Civic Center Plaza has evolved into a neighborhood park with many functions that serve the diverse needs of those who live and work in the area. Civic Center Plaza is located in District 6, a district that has the highest density of population and is in great need of green space. In recent years, the growth of population has rapidly increased with housing developments booming in the area. In fact, according to a projection from the City’s Planning Department, it is expected that more than 2,000 households will be added to the Civic Center neighborhood by 2040.


“This new and improved playground will enhance the community for children and families,” said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim whose district includes Civic Center Plaza. “I want to thank Rec & Park for continuously pursuing and improving access to play in San Francisco.”


Civic Center Plaza is the hub of the City’s cultural life, surrounded by the City’s most notable cultural institutions, including the Main Library, the Asian Art Museum, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet, and many other institutions that have active programming for children.”


“The design includes extensive planting and natural materials, focused on a warm and unique outdoor experience. It is our hope that these playgrounds serve as a timeliness anchor for one of the great civic plazas in the world,” said Jackie Safier, President of the Helen Diller Family Foundation. The playground also includes artistic lighting, which provides an inviting environment as well as helps safety at night.


In partnership with TPL, the Department conducted a comprehensive community outreach and design process. The extensive community process, which began in 2013, included a user survey, focus groups and community-wide workshops with stakeholders including parents, educators, children, institutions, and City agencies, and as a result, a conceptual design for the $10 million renovations was finalized and approved in fall 2016. The Trust for Public Land is using the $10 million grant from the Helen Diller Family Foundation to design and construct two new playgrounds at no cost to the City. This project is part of an ongoing partnership between SF Rec & Park and TPL, which has recently resulted in renovations of Hilltop Park, Hayes Valley Playground and Clubhouse, Balboa Park, and Boeddeker Park and Clubhouse. This partnership has delivered more than $25 million in investments to the parks in San Francisco.


“Helen Diller and her family have generously contributed to rebuild safe and uniquely fun playgrounds throughout the City including Julius Kahn Playground at Presidio, Helen Diller Playground at Dolores Park, and now the Civic Center Playgrounds,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec & Park General Manager. “On behalf of the Department, I want to thank the Helen Diller Family Foundation for continuing to invest in kids and families in San Francisco.”


The improvements to Civic Center Plaza are part of SF Rec & Park’s overall efforts to improve green and open spaces in disadvantaged communities within San Francisco. Most recently, the Department reopened Hilltop Park, Gilman Playground, and completed the Mansell Streetscape project which converted two busy lanes of vehicle traffic to permanent pedestrian and bicycle only pathways in McLaren Park. This is in addition to SF Rec & Park’s construction on the park at 17th & Folsom in the Mission District, as well the Geneva Community Garden, and South Park in SOMA. The Department also runs recreation programming and family-oriented holiday events throughout the year.


“This spectacular new playground, made possible by a generous gift from the Helen Diller Foundation, will redefine play spaces in San Francisco and across the country with extraordinary design and opportunities for fun and exercise,” said Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development at The Trust for Public Land. “The Trust for Public Land works across the US to make parks for people, and we are proud to be a longtime partner with SF Recreation & Parks in bringing high-quality parks to the children and other residents who need them the most.”


City agencies and community stakeholders are collaborating to bring more positive and inclusive activities to Civic Center Plaza through interactive installations, regular programming, and innovative and stewardship-focused partnerships. This is an incremental, integrated approach to ultimately managing these spaces as the single civic gathering place it was always intended to be. In addition to various art installations, this effort to improve public spaces in Civic Center Plaza begins with the renovation of the Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds.


See attached for renderings here: Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds Overview


About Helen Diller Family Foundation

The Helen Diller Family Foundation supports programs and institutions in both the Bay Area and throughout the world, with a focus on education, science, and the arts.  Most recently, to honor and build on a lifetime of giving and charitable service by the late Helen Diller, the Helen Diller Foundation has granted $500 million to UC San Francisco, a university to which Helen was both generous and devoted. The gift will be the largest single donation in UCSF’s history and one of the largest ever to a U.S. university.


About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. More than 7 million people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.  For more information on The Trust for Public Land, go to: www.tpl.org<http://www.tpl.org/>.



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