Introducing Audi Avenue! (Nee Powell Street) Or, Should We Call It Powell Street, by Audi USA?

Will Reisman has the deets about how Audi USA is spending seven figures to buy Powell Street, or something.

So now, Audi, adding to its reputation of selling its wares to the most extreme jackass drivers on the planet*, will also be known for having its own street in the 415.

Wouldn’t it be cool if they took down all the Powell street signs and replaced them with just the four rings of Audi’s logo? There’d be no text at all but everybody, tourists and citizens alike, would know exactly how to say the name of the street. Hurray!

It’ll look a little like this unfinished model – seems as if they forgot to add in the bodies of dead German tourists shot down on the street, but anyway:

Click to expand

Now of course “Audi of America”** is claiming credit for the entire idea, but actually, we had this thing going 1.5 years ago.

Check it:

It wasn’t a success.

Anyway, here’s Audi’s spiel. Apparently, this whole thing was their thang all along, even before they knew about it, somehow:

“The Audi Design Project: Progress on Powell Street was launched with the purpose of improving the pedestrian experience on Powell Street in a way that transforms it into a vibrant destination and alleviates the congestion. So, working with the city of San Francisco, we’re doing something that might normally be considered unfathomable for an automaker — removing cars from the road. That’s right, we’re eliminating the parking lanes on both sides of the street and, in their place, creating a new public space that sits on top of the pavement.”

Read along after the jump to see how extra wide sidewalks on two blocks of Union Square Are Going To Change Everything.

*Yes, even worse than BMW drivers. The problem is that Audi drivers think that they’re extra special, that’s the problem…

**Is that your new name, Audi? Guess you have bad memories of the old one, Audi USA? Remember that whole unintended acceleration (sudden acceleration) thing back in the 1980’s and 1990’s? On behalf of America’s idiot drivers, I’d like to apologize for that whole deal. You were right, we were putting our feet on the wrong pedals. Our bad :(



San Francisco, CA—Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced the construction of the City’s latest Pavement to
Parks project, a new and innovative public space in the heart of San Francisco’s commercial downtown as part
of a new a partnership between the City & County of San Francisco, The Union Square Business Improvement
District (BID) and Audi of America. This new public space will take the form of a continuous pedestrian
promenade along Powell Street for two blocks between Ellis and Geary Streets and running alongside the famed
Cable Car. The new Powell Street Promenade will provide more space for pedestrians to sit and relax and enjoy
one of San Francisco’s most vibrant corridors.

“Through an innovative public-private partnership, we are creating a vibrant, new green public space in the
heart of our City, despite limited resources and a difficult economic climate,” said Mayor Newsom. “I applaud
Audi for their generous financial support and for partnering with the City and the Union Square BID. I also
want to thank the BID for its leadership in the district for the past 11 years, and for expanding in 2009 from 10
to 27 blocks, increasing its capacity to invest in improvements, maintenance and activation of innovative public
spaces such as the Powell Street Promenade.”

In 2009, the Mayor’s Office together with the Planning Department worked with the Union Square BID and
local merchants and property owners on a pilot test project that created a temporary pedestrian promenade along
Powell Street last December. After reviewing the results of the pilot project and holding several community
meetings, a concept design was created by the BID to provide a beautiful and much needed new walking and
resting area for two blocks along Powell between Ellis and Geary. Audi of America partnered with the BID to
provide the necessary design and construction funds for the Powell Street Promenade. Installation is expected to
be finished by April 2011.

“Audi is honored to take part in this exciting and important project for the people of San Francisco,” said Scott
Keogh, Chief Marketing Officer for Audi of America. “As a global hub of art and aesthetic, it seemed only
natural that Audi – a company that stands for innovation and design – partner with the City of San Francisco to
re-imagine Powell Street.”

Over an average weekend, up to 100,000 pedestrians walk along this portion of Powell Street, contributing to a
highly animated yet often congested sidewalk experience. The Powell Street Promenade will provide extra
space for people to walk, sit at a table or on a bench, chat with a friend, or just watch as thousands of people
pass by. Wood, stone, and metal trim will provide a rich visual quality to the space, softened by landscaping
and pedestrian scale lighting. In 2011, construction will begin on the Central Subway Project along Stockton
Street, creating a much more pressing need to increase the pedestrian holding capacity along Powell Street in an
elegant and comfortable way.

“The Union Square BID is excited to be the project sponsor,” James C. Flood, The Union Square Board
President, said. “With construction for the Central Subway on Stockton Street right around the corner, Audi’s
gift couldn’t have come at a better time. We are anxious to begin work and committed to the on-going
maintenance of the new promenade.”

The pro-bono design team for the Powell Street Promenade, which includes the firm Royston, Hanamoto, Alley
and Abey (RHAA) and BAR Architects, have worked with the community to develop a preliminary concept
vision for the project site. Following the model of the Pavement to Parks program where local designers work
free of charge to develop plans for new and innovative public spaces around the City, the Powell Street
Promenade will be the marquee Pavement to Parks project in 2011. Other, smaller projects are also being
planned for neighborhoods throughout the City.

For designs of the Powell Street Promenade, go to:

Pavement to Parks aims to reclaim unused public right of ways and quickly and inexpensively turn them into
new public plazas and parks. Today, there are nine completed projects including four plazas (Castro, Guerrero
Park, Showplace Triangle Plaza, Naples Green Plaza) and five parklets (Divisadero Parklet, 22nd Street Parklet,
24th Street Parklet at Sanchez, 24th Street Parklet at Noe, Columbus Parklet #1 with Columbus Parklet #2
forthcoming). The program is a collaborative effort between the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public
Works, the Planning Department, and the Municipal Transportation Agency.

Recently, the Department of Public Works (DPW) issued detailed implementation guidelines for the approval
and installation of parklets consistent with the sidewalk landscaping program. Request for Proposals (RFP) for
projects was issued to Community Benefit Districts (CBDs), storefront business owners and non-profit
institutions and community organizations. DPW received 42 applications with permitting for nearly 30 parklet
proposals. Funds for construction will be the responsibility of the permit holder.

For more information about Pavement to Parks, go to

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2 Responses to “Introducing Audi Avenue! (Nee Powell Street) Or, Should We Call It Powell Street, by Audi USA?”

  1. There looks like a critical difference between the previous version and this one–at least that’s how it looked today (July 7, 2011). It appears that Audi has applied some real design as opposed to that truly cheesy version that appeared before. And, while your own personal prejudices (I don’t own an Audi) is getting in the way of any constructive dialogue on this blog you may find a more reasoned tone yet.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Are you suggesting that Audi drivers don’t suck?

    That’d be like saying Prius drivers don’t suck.

    Of course, both types of drivers suck, on average, but in different ways…

    What DPW or whomever did last time was a super temp kind of thing, that’s true.

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