H+A’s design for the public facilities at Portsmouth Square in San Francisco's Chinatown district received an Honor Award in the Public/Civic Design category. The design concept was a modern interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture.
By: Shoma Chatterjee
The Portsmouth Square Park restrooms are now open!
Through the 2008 Park Bond, a Restroom Task Force evaluated free-standing restrooms on park property. Due to the high-user count of the Portsmouth Square restroom, the Task Force recommended that its user capacity be increased. At the conclusion of the first community meeting, the preferred solution to increasing user capacity was to replace the existing restroom, rather than to expand or supplement it.
Designed by Hamilton+Aitken Architects, the building architecture is a modern interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture. It is designed to take advantage of natural ventilation and sunlight, durability and ease of maintenance. The sloping roof line with wire-treatment along the edges is designed for pigeon-proofing. A combination of roof overhang and obscure glass limits sightlines into the restroom building from nearby taller buildings.
The Rec and Park Commission approved the concept plan in October 2012, and awarded a construction contract to Chiang CM Construction in July 2014. This project was made possible through the Restroom Program of the voter-approved 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond.
As part of the 2008 Clean and Safe Parks Bond program, H+A is designing the new restroom facilities at Portsmouth Square to increase capacity and address maintenance issues while ensuring privacy, better accommodating families, and enhancing the plaza. To fit within the fabric of the neighborhood, the building is a modern iteration of the existing traditional Chinese pagoda and pavilion architecture in and around the park. Considered the heart of Chinatown, Portsmouth Square is one of the most significant historical sites in San Francisco. The popular blog Curbed SF thinks so too. Check out their recent post on the interesting history of Portsmouth Square: Curbed SF Portsmouth.