North Beach Branch Library Rendering
San Francisco’s Planning Department has just published the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed North Beach Library and Joe DiMaggio Playground Master Plan which will be heard by San Francisco’s Planning Commission and public on October 7.

The Master Plan (“proposed project”) would be implemented in two phases. As part of Phase 1, the right-of-way of Mason Street between Lombard Street and Greenwich Street would be vacated to allow the park to expand and to accommodate the floor plan of the proposed library.

The new North Beach Branch Public Library would be constructed on 701 Lombard Street and would extend 19.5 feet into the former Mason Street right-of-way, in an area comprising the existing 16-foot western sidewalk and 3.5 feet of roadway width. The proposed library building would be triangular and approximately 8,500 square feet, on two levels, and would be 3,170 square feet larger than the existing library. Upon completion of the new branch library, the existing library would be demolished, and the site would be graded for potential future development as open space within Joe DiMaggio Playground.

As part of Phase 1, an interim scheme would be developed to address improvements on the vacated portion of Mason Street. Mason Street would be landscaped to create car-free plaza space, which would be open to public passage 24 hours per day. A range of options to provide additional green space are being considered, including the addition of seating and passive recreational features. Under any scheme that ultimately is implemented, the vacated portion of Mason Street is intended to accommodate pedestrians traveling through the interior of the site (between the proposed library and other uses on the Joe DiMaggio Playground); to provide outdoor space for library staff for occasional activities; and to provide passive recreation space.

Phase 1 is estimated to begin in 2011 and would be completed by approximately 2013.

Phase 2 of the proposed project would include reorganization and improvements to the Joe DiMaggio Playground. Depending on project funding, Phase 2 is anticipated to begin in 2013 and be completed in 2014.

During this phase, the existing children’s play area in the southwestern portion of the block would be removed, and the area would be excavated to equalize the grade with the hardscape area and existing tennis courts to the east and north. The existing tennis courts would then be relocated to the area along Greenwich Street in the southwest area of the park, and a new children’s play area would be constructed in the center of the block in the location of the former tennis courts and closer to the restrooms, clubhouse and staff supervision for younger users. The multi-purpose hardscape area in the eastern half of the block would be improved with new paving and striped to accommodate additional recreation fields and court boundaries, including soccer field and softball diamond markings, additional basketball courts, seating, and new plantings. The vacated area of Mason Street would be further improved and landscaped to create a seating and plaza space.

A Mason Street Narrowing Variant to the proposed project would include all elements of the proposed project; however, the portion of Mason Street not occupied by the proposed library’s footprint would remain open to vehicular traffic. On this block, Mason Street would consist of one travel lane in each direction, one parking lane northbound, and sidewalks on each side of the street. Construction of the new library, demolition of the existing library, and renovation and reorganization of the features within the Joe DiMaggio Playground would be the same as with the proposed project.

In addition to the Mason Street Narrowing Variant, a number of Preservation alternatives would build around the existing North Beach Branch library, “a historic architectural resource that may be landmarked.”
Should the existing library be razed, however, drawings, photographs, and a written history of the building along with an “a permanent interpretative display at or near the site of the former North Beach Branch Library to discuss the history and significance of this branch” are proposed to help mitigate its loss.
In addition to the Planning and Historic Preservation commissions, the Library, Recreation and Park, and Arts commissions will need to weigh in with approvals along with our Board of Supervisors. Expect a few others to weigh in as well.
North Beach Public Library/Joe DiMaggio Playground Master Plan EIR [sf-planning.org]
North Beach Library And Playground Plans Like You Read About [SocketSite]
An Only In North Beach NIMBY Preservationist Argument: Shelves [SocketSite]
Preservation Commission Recommends New North Beach Landmark [SocketSite]

Recent Articles

Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Q

    Can’t they just move the “historic” bookcases into a shrine-like corner in the new building? Put them behind glass and have a wall plaque describing why they were so “revolutionary.”

  2. Posted by sfrenegade

    I’m with Q. If we’re for preserving this kind of crap, we should at least make it into a museum.

  3. Posted by 94114

    Why do you call it “crap”? Every Victorian in this city gets saved from the wrecking ball (however interesting it is or not) but God forbid, a few cool mid-century buildings are preserved. And it is a cool mid-century building. Take the time and go look at the building. It’s run down because it has been attended to in years but architecturally, it is significant.

  4. Posted by sfrenegade

    The “crap” was referring to the allegedly historic bookshelves. From what I’ve heard, the shelves are the only portion of the old library that is under consideration for preservation.
    I’m no fan of the way we preserve old crappy buildings here and how third parties are given too much say over the process. I have previously suggested to people that we should turn 4 earthquake cottages into museums instead of preserving all of them, if they’re really so important. It makes no sense to preserve what was to be temporary housing for more than 100 years. (http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2009/10/suspended_disbelief_and_renderings_for_15_surrey.html)
    To be honest, I’m not a big fan of mid-century modern, but I will go check out the building since you mentioned it.

  5. Posted by North Beach Parent

    North Beach is a thriving, living neighborhood. It is not a museum.
    The public library, parking lot and playground should be designed to serve the needs of the public. Neither the current library nor the playground do this well. The proposed new library and play area would be a great improvement.
    I appreciate the desire to preserve meaningful historical architecture. However, the current library is generally considered one of the lesser of Appleton’s designs, and contains little in the way of unique asthetics.
    The chief principals guiding its original design was that form should follow function, and that public buildings should be designed to serve the public. To cling to the original library building when such a better option is available is to turn Appleton’s ideals on their head.

  6. Posted by Mike Sullivan

    This project would be a major improvement for North Beach. The idea that this tired, 1950s era building is worthy of “historic preservation” is something that I just don’t get. And you have to balance the advantage of bringing state of the art facilities to a neighborhood that really needs them.

  7. Posted by Delancey

    Could we please cut to the chase and declare historic the 5-odd parking spots on the bit of Mason that is to be made into a park?

  8. Posted by Tim Giangiobbe

    Warm The Crane Up Hook Up a Two Ton Ball and have at it.Sounds like fun !
    The Place is a DUNGEON !
    No Windows for natural light.
    It’s just an UGLY BUILDING.
    Good Riddance.
    I Suppose they were defending the Embarcadero freway too.
    Remeber the FOOLS who wanted to keep that ugly freeway ?

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *