Publication Date

Spring 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Art History


Anthony Raynsford


Ghirardelli Square, Lawrence Halprin, San Francisco, Urban Planning, Urban Renewal, William Roth

Subject Areas

Art history; Architecture


Ghirardelli Square, which opened in 1964, is well known among many architecture historians and urban planners owing to its origins as the one of the first successful rescue and adaptive reuse of a factory site and its place among the shifting urban renewal policies within San Francisco. Previous analysis has focused primarily on the work of Lawrence Halprin and his impact within Northern California; however very little has been discussed in regards to Roth and his team’s original plan for the space along with the outrage taking place concerning urban renewal policies in San Francisco during this time. By examining Halprin's design for Ghirardelli Square both to emerging theories of urban design and William Roth’s model of preservation-oriented private development, I argue that Ghirardelli Square represents a significant, but under-examined model of the 1960s’ turn towards a new synthesis of architectural modernism and palimpsestic urban design. The work of these two men, and the team of planners and architects that formed the Ghirardelli Project Committee, created an innovative plan of rescue and adaptation that resulted in Ghirardelli Square’s place as a significant phase in the history of urban aesthetics and design. With consideration for the ever-changing urban landscape, and the ongoing gentrification experienced today in many major metropolitan areas throughout the United States, this study stresses the importance of cultivating an understanding of historic urban planning and policy that originated in the early 20th century and the subsequent reaction against this same policy beginning in the 1950s.