For three days in April 2015, Market Street will become a public platform as up to 50 of the most exceptional ideas for improving San Francisco’s main thoroughfare come to life.

The Festival

This April, for the first time ever, Market Street will transform into a public platform, showcasing exciting ideas for improving our famed civic spine and how we use it. Winning entries, as diverse and exciting as the people of San Francisco themselves, will be brought to life for three days along Market Street’s sidewalks, where millions of pedestrians from all walks of life will have the chance to experience, explore, and interact with the prototypes.

The Goal

The goal of the Prototyping Festival is to unite diverse neighborhoods along Market Street, encouraging these vibrant communities to work with designers, artist and makers to build a more connected, beautiful San Francisco. This unique collaboration is a partnership between the San Francisco Planning Department, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Knight Foundation. A diverse jury of more than 50 makers, artists, thought leaders and community stakeholders reviewed the hundreds of submissions received by the October 10th deadline. Ideas were chosen based on their creativity, sense of community, potential to make Market Street a more vibrant public space and ability to identify Market Street as uniquely San Francisco.

Winning entries will be given the funding, workspace, and mentorship necessary to make their visions a reality.



Designing with and for Community

Over the past several years, the City’s Better Market Street project has gathered extensive community feedback, with a clear response that the public wants a more vibrant and positive experience on Market Street. The City has responded with a commitment to redesigned sidewalks and “Street Life Zones” that make our public space more active, vibrant and engaging. These are the zones we asked the community to reimagine and activate during the Festival.

As a placemaking project, the Festival is driven by community needs and desires – we looked for project designs that do the same. Selected projects depended on the ability to listen to and respond to the community’s feedback, the inventiveness of the design, and the team’s ability to prototype and execute the proposed project.

What We Looked For: Connection

Bold and imaginative projects that create a vibrant public space along Market Street, increasing connections and social interactions.

We looked for projects that encourage activity where people linger, socialize and spend time while simultaneously reflecting the district in which they exist. We also wanted projects that identify Market Street as uniquely San Francisco, creating an experience of the city’s history, diversity, environmental commitment, and leadership in cultural creativity and technological innovation.


Any person, business or organization was welcome to submit a proposal for a prototype, or model, which physically demonstrates a new idea to make Market Street a more vibrant, active, inviting and enjoyable place to be.

Matched with one of five Festival Districts on Market Street (Civic Center, Central Market, Retail Heart, Financial District and Embarcadero), selected project teams will receive a $2,000 stipend for materials and work directly with District design and community leaders to help shape the implementation of their designs, reinforcing the notion that working across sectors and with the community has the power to increase any individual’s capacity. Teams will frequently and considerately interact with the community where their project will be installed. Required participation includes attending several Festival-sponsored public engagement activities as well as gathering feedback from those testing your project during the Festival.

At the Festival, teams will display their work for three days in selected areas along Market Street from the Embarcadero to Van Ness Avenue, spanning nearly two miles in the heart of downtown. We will work collectively to nurture important and innovative ideas throughout this process with the hopes of taking many of them further into the public realm, and promote the festival as a model for cross-city learning and development.


See selected projects →