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    New Designs for Harvey Milk Plaza Revealed

    Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza (FOHMP) on May 15 revealed semi-final architectural designs for the Plaza and transit station at the corner of Castro and Market Streets. The designs, inclusive of proposed Harvey Milk memorial concepts and SFMTA upgrades, were presented at this final community meeting.

    According to FOHMP and the architecture firm Perkins Eastman that created the designs, the new renderings address a wide variety of community desires and concerns including inspirational elements that appropriately memorialize Milk as well as greenery/landscaping, a place for gathering, open sight lines, better circulation, improved access and short-term seating. The criteria that formed the framework for the project were also established in unison with the community, and were: Inspiring Memorial, Successful Public Space, Universal Access and Health/Safety/Security.

    This meeting completed a months-long series of community gatherings where individuals and groups were invited to share their perspectives. After the first meeting in January 2017, an international design competition ensued with the contract ultimately being awarded to Perkins Eastman. Subsequent meetings, held every 4–6 weeks from January 2018 to the recent unveiling, led the community through discussions that drove the actual design of the memorial components. Certain aspects of the project, such as the new elevator and regrading, are SFMTA upgrades.

    “Community engagement is what helped get Harvey elected to office, and it’s fitting for the community to be so engaged in this tribute to his legacy,” said State Senator Scott Wiener, who thanked FOHMP and the Castro CBD “for their continued efforts to create a plaza that works with our public transit systems, serves as a community gathering space and celebrates the legacy of Harvey’s work.”

    Dr. Tim Seelig, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC) and a San Francisco Bay Times columnist, said that SFGMC’s “first performance was at the candlelight vigil for Harvey Milk. In many ways we feel he passed the baton on to many of us, including the Chorus. Since that time, almost 40 years ago, we have been inspired almost daily by the man who was Harvey. We have gathered all over town to celebrate his life. But there is no location befitting his world-wide legacy. We need a place where people from all over the globe can visit as they continue to gain inspiration from his life and, most of all, his message.”

    With the community-facing portion of the project now completed, the next steps are to initiate the city’s approval and permitting process. Fundraising will also commence to generate the funds necessary to implement the Milk memorial aspects of the project while the SFMTA upgrades will be funded by the city.