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Re-commoning the Frontier

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San Francisco, CA, USA



Client / Date of Completion:
SPUR/ Piero Patri Fellowship in Urban Design

Project Team:
The Open Workshop + Blake Stevenson
Neeraj Bhatia, Blake Stevenson, Liz Lessig


How can displacement of existing residents in gentrifying neighborhoods be mitigated? One of the largest challenges in mitigating displacement is that the reasons for leaving a neighborhood are multifaceted. Re-Commoning the Frontier focuses on two of the largest causes—economic necessity and cultural estrangement. Economic necessity is an individual concern that centers on the value to be gained from one’s land. The design research investigates different strategies to leverage property into a productive resource while being able to still live on the land. Cultural concerns are collective in nature and arise when existing residents feel that the institutions and amenities provided by a neighborhood no longer support them. The research reframes a series of contemporary commons—or, collectively shared resources—centered on making, to inject amenities that tap into the cultural legacy of the neighborhood while bringing people together. We re-engage the notion of the commons, one of the first uses of San Francisco’s Southeast Waterfront’s lands, to create an alternative to public space—positioning the concept of working together as a critical mechanism to embrace pluralism.