Mint Plaza in San Francisco is described by the Friends of Mint Plaza (FoMP) as "a community gathering spot– a space to take a break, bring lunch, read a book or chat with a friend." The plaza also manages local stormwater and its design - by CMG Landscape Architecture and Sherwood Design Engineers - responds to the San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission Stormwater Program guidelines.
Two rain gardens almost bookend the plaza. The garden at the 5th Street edge of the plaza is planted with a coast live oak. The other rain garden is located in the center-rear of the plaza. Surface runoff feeds the gardens. The plaza measures 20,000 square foot plaza, but only a portion of the runoff is directed to the rain gardens. The other portion is directed to "an underground distribution system that will slowly infiltrate this water into the sandy soils underlying the plaza surface."
A small grove of ginkgoes, one of my favorite spaces in the plaza, is located at the western edge of the plaza. The soil is covered by small pebbles, which in addition to their aesthetic value, I assume aid in water infiltration and act as a mulch.
On my first visit to the plaza in 2007 I observed people strolling through the plaza, attending the adjacent open house, sitting on the rain garden walls, and running through the plaza (100% of the runners were children). I don't recall anyone sitting on the numerous, bright orange chairs that are scattered throughout the plaza. Small tables around which to gather, drink, eat, or people-watch might increase use of the chairs.
For the current status of the plaza as well as details about its design, read "Fresh Mint Taste" by Lisa Owens Viani in the July 2011 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.
This post was updated on 11/8/2009 and 7/3/2011.