Mariposa Park is a 2.5 acre urban park located in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco. Developed in conjunction with the UCSF Russell Benioff Children’s Hospital, the park provides a multi-functional outdoor space for patients, hospital staff, and the surrounding neighborhood to picnic, play, and relax in a rich and ecologically vibrant landscape.
Born out of extensive community dialogue, the design creates a distinctive landscape of forms and elements that celebrate the heritage of the industrial waterfront and local ecology.
The story of early use of the site as a railyard is told through the design of the plaza, paths, and shade structures. A trellis made of locally salvaged timbers and steel I-beams replicate the roundhouse tracks and turntable. Where spur lines once radiated, gabion segments filled with brick, concrete, and asphalt rubble collected from nearby building demolition – trace their paths. The gabions create a unifying language for perimeter markers, field game viewing platforms, and habitat for small fauna. Trimmed in wood, the gabions in the plaza become impromptu stages and seats.
Park ecology is both meaningful and character-defining. Planting promotes biodiversity through use of extensive native species that attract birds and beneficial insects. Butterflies, as inspiration for the park’s biomorphic forms and the park’s namesake, are particularly supported. Plant species associated with the endemic and endangered Mission Blue butterfly are included. Stormwater is managed through vegetated swales and other LID techniques. Children’s play features continue the theme of butterflies, through the four stages of metamorphosis — itself a metaphor for healing – expressed by colored egg spheres, caterpillar balancing balls, a web cocoon climber swing, and flight lift off mounds.