Market Street is the central artery and civic backbone of San Francisco. Anyone who has walked, cycled, driven or ridden public transportation down the street knows both how vital it is to the city — and how choked with traffic it can be. The city government, many merchants and residents believe it needs to be more than just a transportation route. It needs to be the city’s most vibrant public space.
To that end, the city has spearheaded a plan to make a “Better Market Street” — to revitalize the street as a premier cultural, civic, transportation and economic center of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Led by the Department of Public Works, the city government has developed multiple design options to make
the street safer, more sustainable and more efficient to walk, bike or take public transportation, as well as transform the sidewalks and public plazas into more inviting places for pedestrians.
This evening, July 17th, and again on Saturday, July 20th, the city will continue its program of public engagement to solicit resident input on the design options — but with a new twist.
For the first time at a public workshop, the city will be debuting a totally new device – called an “OWL™” – to help residents and public officials experience the different options for bike lanes, transit stops and pedestrian spaces in an immersive 3D environment.
The OWLs, conceived by start-up firm Owlized, are modeled after old-fashioned, coin-operated art deco binoculars you find at scenic viewpoints – but thoroughly updated for the 21st century. When participants look inside the OWLs, they will be able to experience three Market and Mission Street design options in videogame-like 3D visualizations powered by Autodesk InfraWorks software. The visualizations are based on a comprehensive 3D model of downtown San Francisco that was created using Autodesk InfraWorks and are visible on an iPad embedded inside the OWL.
The point is to get better informed feedback from the public and help officials make better informed decisions about the design options under consideration, thanks to a more accurate understanding of the project options than is possible with 2D renderings alone.
InfraWorks is used by civil engineers and urban planners to conceptualize, model and communicate design options for major public works projects. It is aimed at helping to close the estimated $30 trillion gap in unfunded infrastructure projects worldwide by accelerating approvals and using real data from the 3D models — rather than old-fashioned 2D blueprints — to manage the construction phase of projects. With major infrastructure projects often taking years to build, accelerating the design and approval process is vital to economic development and improving the quality of life for residents.
Everyone is welcome to attend the public workshops, either today July 17th, from 6:00-8:30pm at the Parc 55 Hotel or Saturday, July 20th, from 10:00-12:30pm at the San Francisco Public Library’s Main location. Pre-registration is encouraged at Better Market Street. Come experience the OWLs, see the possible future options for Market Street and make your voice heard!