Designing hope for everyone—today, tomorrow, forever.

Volume is teaming up with SWA to realize a 20+ year-old dream of creating a new memorial for activist Harvey Milk. Located in the heart of the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, Harvey Milk Plaza will be transformed into a bustling hub of hope and action. As Milk himself said, “Hope will never be silent,” and nor will this revamped plaza.

The existing site is challenging, with multiple grade levels, public and private adjacencies, all sitting atop a MUNI station, to boot! Today, most people pass through the plaza without stopping. In the future, it will be a destination for locals and out-of-town visitors alike. A place of gathering for both reflection and action. Just as Harvey would have wanted.

We conducted sessions with the public to isolate and confirm key strategic aims that inform the design. In short, the memorial should be unconventional, speak to local and global audiences, less a static object and more an experience, and focus on the movement Harvey started as much as (if not more than) the man himself. Hope and action.

Then, most importantly, how can we create a dynamic memorial that speaks to the present activist moment and every activist moment into the future?

The overall design scheme is mapped along a Hope/Action continuum, informed by the more residential west side and public east side of the plaza. Harvey’s words are littered across the site, creating a breadcrumb trail that culminates at the “Hub” that sheaths the MUNI elevator that anchors the site architecturally.

The Hub’s design is inspired by protest placards and houses both static panels with Harvey’s words and video screens that can be programmed to reflect the issues and actions of the current moment.

The MUNI concourse level will house a combination of permanent and rotating exhibitions (including a sound piece). The design is again informed by the protest placards and the desire to speak to both Harvey and the current moment.

Visitors will also be given the opportunity to give out a “flower” as many did immediately after Harvey’s memorial service—in the form of a card from a ticket box, with locally-sourced artwork on one side and a directive to action on the other.

(Watch a local news piece on the project.)

(Renderings by SWA)