Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Look for the Bayview Opera House

Community-minded landscape architecture firm, SWA, wanted to find a place to bring together colleagues from around the country. Then they thought: with all this talent assembled in one place, we should choose a site in San Francisco where a landscaping project can be undertaken that would have a big impact on the place and the community. One call to Judy Nemzoff at the San Francisco Arts Commission, and a partnership was born.

Rene Bihan, Managing Principle of SWA's Bay Area office, is leading the way to a spectacular example of urban transformation when the exterior area of the Bayview Opera House (4705 Third Street) will get innovative new landscaping - all in one day. Volunteers are welcome, and an opening cerenony will be held Friday the 19th at 10am with the landscape installation following from 1 to 5pm.

Rene and other SWA professionals met with the Opera House Board, the Quesada Gardens Initiative, the YMCA, the Children's Mural Program and others during the planning process for a design will soften the hard edges of the current gated and walled-off building and invite attention to the institution's strenghs through good design.

"I hope people will come out to learn about building their own environments," Rene said today. "It's really not that complicated to make a big difference."

Rene talked about the process being a humbling one for him. He pointed out that landscape designers are well aware of the interface between sustainability and art, and balancing function with artistic and aescetic approaches. The social approach SWA is engaged with now seems fresh to Rene, and provides important opportunities to get those who will live with the results involved.

The Quesada Gardens Initiative will be on hand on Friday as we salute SWA, Rene and his team for using their remarkable talents to create positive social change.

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