Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground

Where Chinatown Plays

A park and clubhouse are reimagined for generations to come.

All Star Park

This beloved neighborhood playground—today named for a Chinese-American, University of San Francisco basketball star—has served Chinatown residents of all ages since it opened in 1927. In 2018, San Francisco Recreation and Parks tapped CMG Landscape Architecture to lead a comprehensive renovation of the playground with JENSEN handling the clubhouse remodel. Guided by the community’s aspirations, the team merged building and landscape, creating an indoor-outdoor community hub hosting everything from play dates to weddings.

City-sized Play Structure

Like Chinatown, one of the city’s densest neighborhoods, the playground makes the most of its half-acre site. Its three levels — upper courts, middle playground, and lower clubhouse — step down the steeply sloping block. Pathways, stairs and ramps, designed to ease the way for all, welcome visitors from all directions. Within these layers, the landscape becomes the building and the building becomes the landscape: the bridge expansion rests atop the clubhouse, which flows into the playground and down to the street below.

New Connections

Bold, yet economical gestures transform the clubhouse while reusing much of what was once an opaque, concrete box. Storefront windows and a stadium stair open a visible connection with Waverly Place and its bank of historic buildings. The interior is pared back and painted white, except for a mural by artist Julie Chang composed of classic Chinese symbols, “woven” on the grid of concrete blocks. The clubhouse becomes an indoor plaza that also is a place for ping-pong tournaments, classes and community meetings.

Ready for the Next Century

After using the playground for nearly 100 years, the Chinatown community was an expert on its historical importance and future purpose. In collaboration with San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, the design team engaged the community through a program of surveys, workshops, focus groups and meetings. CMG’s design celebrates the park’s history, restoring the pagoda and preserving murals, and it honors the community with a flexible, multi-use open space ready for the next century.

Type
Civic
Client
San Francisco Recreation & Parks
Location
San Francisco

Press

SF Chronicle, “A redone Chinatown park shows why public space matters in times like these,” February 2021
SF Chronicle, “Dragon breathes new life into S.F. Chinatown playground after $15 million renovation,” February 2021

Architects

Project Leads
Mark Jensen
Frank Merritt
Scott Davis
Project Team
Vanessa Moon
Andy Lin

Consultants

Design Team Lead
CMG Landscape Architecture
Structural
Pivot Structural Engineering
Mechanical
HRA Engineering
Civil
Urban Design Consulting Engineers
Waterproofing
McGinnis Chen Associates, Inc
Specifications
Top Flight Specs
Construction Management
SF Public Works
Community Outreach
InterEthnica
Mural Artist
Julie Chang

Contractor

CLW Builders

Photographer

Bruce Damonte
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