Collect & Connect - Resilient South City


Recognized by the Resilient by Design Jury for their pragmatic and convincing focus on neighborhood-level interventions from the mountain to the bay.


Collect & Connect - Resilient South City is a proposal to create more public green space and continuous public access along South San Francisco’s Colma Creek, aiming to reduce the impacts of flooding, mitigate against sea-level rise vulnerability, restore native flora and fauna, and create more amenity and healthy lifestyle opportunities by connecting a continuous public corridor from Orange Memorial Park to a new public park at the shoreline.

The Resilient South City watershed includes South San Francisco as well as the cities of Colma, San Bruno and Daly City.


Located in San Mateo County, South San Francisco is the bay’s self-proclaimed ‘industrial city’. Major freeways and rail lines link the city to the region but also divide the City and limit residents’ access to the shoreline of the Bay.

The South City Circle is a gateway to the city and also links pedestrians/cyclists across the rail corridor and Hwy 101.


Resilient South  City is a community-based  design challenge aimed at strengthening  the city’s resilience to sea level rise  and climate change.

The  primary  objectives  of our design  proposal are to:
_manage  flooding along  Colma Creek by widening  and greening the canal as  well as creating a sequence  of new parks
_connect  the community  along the creek  to the shoreline,  between a series of  active public spaces including  a new waterfront pool and school  
_upgrade  schools to  become resilience  hubs as well as active  community open space resources  (playgrounds become parks) while  linking them to the creek & each  other by new green streets for cycling  and water management (more kids riding to  school!)
_extend  the restoration  of native plants  from San Bruno mountain,  down across the city’s other  green spaces (parks, cemeteries  and schools) and along the creek  to the shoreline.

The key  project is  the parkway connection  from Orange Memorial Park  to the shoreline. This will  involve a sequence of new green  public open spaces of varying character,  linked by a continuous path for walking and  cycling. Orange Park is a highly programmed sports  and community hub.

The  new canal-side  parks are a patchwork  of parks to retain stormwater,  dotted with playgrounds and linked  by the creek cycleway.

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South San Francisco residents dropped into the community space established in a vacant former bank. They left comments and ideas on the HASSELL+ map over the period of the design stage.


The HASSELL+ team drew heavily on local voices and insights to ensure that the design proposal reflects the community’s needs, by creating a community centre for design and education with a focus on discussion and feedback.

The former Bank of South San Francisco at 304 Grand Avenue, a 100 year-old heritage building that had been vacant for decades, was given a new life as a drop-in storefront and community space to talk about resilience and the future.

Visitors listened to local experts talk about native plants, social history and equitable urban design, and viewed photographs from the South San Francisco Historical Society.

Community members visited the Resilient South City storefront to learn about the project and chat with the design team, hear from community partners (San Bruno Mountain Watch, Youth Leadership Institute and the South San Francisco Historical Society) and talk to City and County officials.

A restored Colma Creek would be wider, greener and include a cycling connection to the Bay.


Over the last half-century, local residents in South San Francisco have lost their historic connection to the water. Parts of the community suffer from flooding and have limited access to a shoreline blocked by industry. And, like the entire Bay Area, San Mateo County is at risk from sea level rise and seismic events.

This makes San Mateo County the perfect testing ground for solutions that could unlock potential for shoreline communities around the entire Bay Area.


The wetland collector area, the Eco Water Park and SSF WQCP at the mouth of a restored Colma Creek.

We are reconnecting South City to the Bay. This community used to walk the length of the creek and swim in the bay, and our proposals aims to make that possible again to engage them in the longer term discussion of protecting the shoreline and adjacent airport against sea-level rise. We know that creating more green space and amenity will also help to reduce flooding and build resiliency along this corridor.
— Richard Mullane, HASSELL Principal
I’ve often looked upon the Colma Creek watershed from the ridge of San Bruno Mountain, hopeful that one day the creek in the city would be freed from its restrictive, concrete channel and undergo a community-based transformation into an engaging, ecologically healthy waterway and valued public space. I am deeply excited by the proposal to restore native flora and fauna to the creek environment, as I work extensively on habitat restoration projects on San Bruno Mountain and manage the Mission Blue Nursery. I’ve personally seen local community members, including many high school students from South San Francisco, connect with the inspiring ideas that the HASSELL+ team has invited us to imagine and strive towards through the Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge.
— Ariel Cherbowsky Corkidi, Programs Director, San Bruno Mountain Watch
Addressing the challenge of sea level rise in San Mateo County will require bold and innovative community-based solutions. The expertise brought by the HASSELL+ team will be an invaluable resource as we strive to create resilience and integrate our communities with a rapidly changing San Francisco Bay.
— Supervisor Dave Pine, President, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors


The design team will continue to work with the local community to make this vision of resilience a reality in South San Francisco and San Mateo County.

Resilient South City aims to align with local schools on higher ground to collect/treat/reuse water, create safe routes for walking/biking to school, open-up schoolyards for more community recreation, and to become better equipped as community shelter points in times of disaster.

These beacons of resilience, learning and community will be connected to the Colma Creek Corridor via slow movement streets for water & cycling, creating a local network of resilience for South City and surrounding neighborhoods.


Reflections from the Bay Area Challenge

The HASSELL+ team understands water. We understand designing for water, living with water and the immense social potential that waterfront places offer communities when they are connected to them. HASSELL, originating from Australia, as well as Deltares + Goudappel, originating from the Netherlands, are drawn to RbD through an acute understanding of the social, cultural, economic and ecological potential that research-led design can unlock for waterfront communities.

In partnership with our local experts: Lotus Water, Civic Edge, HATCH, Brown & Caldwell, Idyllist, and Page & Turnbull, we bring to this challenge a wealth of experience. Experience in researching, listening and engaging with communities, and designing, prototyping and delivering integrated solutions.