Prior to his role as Place Lab (formerly Build Public) Board President, Michael Yarne with the Martin Building Company transformed a derelict alley in downtown San Francisco into a lively public space that also functions as a stormwater capture-infiltration system. Envisioned as an urban stage, the iconic design belies its technical and programmatic complexity and creates a novel space for urban life. Mint Plaza was the recipient of the US EPA's 2011 Smart Growth Civic Design Award.
In April 2007 the San Francisco Board of Supervisor and the Mayor approved legislation to transform the 290'-long portion of Jessie Street stretching between Fifth and Mint Streets into San Francisco's newest public open space, aptly named Mint Plaza. The entire process, from concept, to financing to implementation, took just under two years to complete - quite an accomplishment to San Francisco.
Existing streets and sidewalks were demolished and replaced with a new pedestrian surface composed of composite stone pavers, a steel arbor with climbing vines, trees and several rain gardens. The Plaza was consciously designed to accommodate a wide range of uses, including art exhibitions, live music, cafes, and small festivals, while also providing a quiet, green and clean refuge for neighboring residents, downtown employees and visitors from everywhere to pause, and relax.
The approximately $3.5M project is maintained and managed at no cost to the public by Friends of Mint Plaza (FoMP), a California non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.