Best New Downtown Public Space - 2004
JP Morgan Chase Building
On the north side of the new Darth Vader high-rise at 560 Mission St. is a privately owned slice of San Francisco that provides an elegant debunking of claims that office tower development is ruining the South of Market neighborhood. This block near Second Street used to be a no man's land of small parking lots and dilapidated buildings. A few months ago it was rechristened as a 32-story back office to the bank JP Morgan Chase. It also includes a private, quarter-block park accessible to all. At the park's center is a decomposed granite pathway lined with miniature bamboo groves springing from elevated, copper-clad planter walls. Public furniture -- some movable, some not -- completes what's become a popular people-watching venue within only a few months of opening. Passers-by are often seen turning to look, then somehow losing their sense of hurriedness as they watch office workers gabbing, eating, lingering.