envelope A+D

envelope A+D

Berkeley, CA



PROXY is a temporary open space experiment activating two vacant development parcels in the heart of San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood. A placeholder for more permanent development, PROXY offers a more nimble model for urban development—a flexible urbanism—for the world’s rapidly changing cities.

As the project’s architect, developer and curator, we envisioned PROXY as a space for thoughtful experimentation to occur: changing public perception of what is possible and allowing the city to become a more open and playful construct. Conceived with the knowledge of PROXY’s short lifespan on the site, PROXY is an investigation into the potentials of impermanence, stressing the importance of presence, heightened engagement and of seizing the moment in our lives.

Since 2011, PROXY has presented a rotating offering of events, retail shops, art and even food offerings rotate through its open framework of temporary structures, invoking a flexibility between people, architecture, and the city. With the completion of the Walk-in Theater in 2015, PROXY transformed yet again. A new kind of arts institution–unbound by walls—PROXY, today, presents a pioneering program of independent film, art and music outdoors for all to discover, in partnership with its nonprofit affiliate, HERE FOR NOW.

Although inspired by Archigram’s "Instant City," PROXY was born out of neighborhood activism. In 2009, Hayes Valley was a long-struggling neighborhood on the brink of transformation; the removal of the 1950s-era Central Freeway had ended an era of blight and created parcels for much-needed housing. When recession threatened to stall development for years, the community sought interim uses to activate the vacant sites. Initially proposed with a lifespan of just two to three years, PROXY now will remain a neighborhood presence through 2020.

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Status: Built
Location: San Francisco, CA, US