This Harvey Milk memorial brings green space to San Francisco


SWA Group has reimagined San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza in an ambitious new project honoring the late LGBTQ+ hero. Chosen out of 17 design firms invited to submit proposals, SWA Group envisioned a standout design for The Memorial at Harvey Milk Plaza.

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Located at the corner of Castro and Market in San Francisco, the plaza will soon welcome a new memorial that honors the history of the gay rights movement. San Francisco’s Castro District is famous for its history of activism and as a pillar of the LGBTQ+ community.

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A rendering of colorful figures standing around a pole with LGBT pride images on it.

“Friends and SWA have already begun initial discussions around creating an unconventional and inclusive design process so these qualities of Harvey Milk and his legacy are inherently part of the design that is produced,” said Brian Springfield, Interim Executive Director for Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza.

A colorful rendering of the memorial grove. Colorful figures hang out in a park area surrounded by trees. At the top of the image is the Harvey Milk quote: "The important thing is not that we can live on hope alone, but that life is not worth living without it."

The design is slated for completion in 2021. Built around three core elements, the memorial will include the pedestal, beacon and memorial grove. The pedestal will feature Milk’s final words, which were “All I ask is for the movement to continue.” This area will also showcase the history of Harvey Milk Plaza.

A rendering of a candlelight vigial at the Harvey Milk Memorial.

The beacon area will feature photographs, each capturing a special moment in LGBTQ+ history. True to its name, the beacon will serve as both a symbol of hope and a beautiful reminder of the past.

A rendering of a map showing the planned space for the Harvey Milk Memorial.

Meanwhile, the memorial grove will be a green space with 11 trees. The number 11 is significant because this is the number of months Milk served as San Francisco Supervisor before he was assassinated. Each tree also represents places where he lived. There is a tree from New York, his hometown. There’s also a tree from Texas, where he lived as a boy, and trees that represent San Francisco.

Rendering courtesy of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza & SWA Group

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