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May 2, 2019

How I See San Francisco: Landscape Architect Roderick Wyllie

San Francisco is a city full of natural beauty: numerous parks, breathtaking coastline, and gorgeous trees and flowers. Few people know this better than landscape architect Roderick Wyllie. We asked him what suggestions he had for visitors to the City by the Bay, from how to commune with nature to how to discover local neighborhood treasures.

What does a typical day in San Francisco look like for you?

Breakfast at home, watching the fog move away or roll in over the hill from Cole Valley to the Castro. Work can be a blur. We work on design projects locally and further afield. It feels like such a luxury to be contributing to the public and private life of the citizens of San Francisco. Our office is on the bay. Catching a glimpse of a seal frolicking is a good omen. Dinner might be at home, but we’ve been traveling a bit so groceries aren’t always there! Going out to eat in the neighborhood means it could be Rintaro, Nopalito, or Out the Door. We are surrounded by great options.

Which neighborhood do you like to explore, other than your own?

It's fascinating to see the change in Dogpatch. What will it transform into? I lived on Illinois St. 23 years ago and used perform at the Club Foot before than that. I’m not a particularly nostalgic person, but what will I recognize in 10 years?

Where do you indulge your artistic side in San Francisco?

The Lab. It's always great. Provocative and necessary.

What's your favorite annual event in San Francisco?

The dahlias flowering in Golden Gate Park.

You’re a landscape architect. Where are your favorite places to reconnect with nature in San Francisco?

Crissy Field is an amazing spot that is essentially a transformed airstrip. It’s reclaimed nature, with windsurfers, sailboats, and fog.

Where do you like to view sunrise and sunset?

Corona Heights Park is almost the geographic center of the city. The rocky outcrops are your window to the city and the bay.

Where and what would you choose for your last meal in San Francisco?

Dim sum, at any number of places.

Which restaurant is still on your list to dine at in San Francisco?

Lazy Bear.

How have you seen San Francisco’s “always welcoming” spirit in action during your time here?

Well, I’m from here, so my perspective might be slightly different. I think the idea of “welcoming” has always been here. It’s the spirit of the west and the optimism of making a place for yourself here.

What’s one part of San Francisco that you wish visitors knew about?

Visitors should check out local businesses, the places that don’t exist anywhere else. These are places that expand beyond their stated mission into a cultural conversation. There are too many to list, but a few of my favorites are Modern Appealing Clothing, The Green Arcade, William Stout Books, Catherine Clark Gallery, and Heath Ceramics.

What should every visitor to San Francisco do at least once?

Go to the Sutro Baths and stare at the Pacific Ocean. The combination tells you all you need to know about the ephemeral nature of cities and power of the waves.

Any last advice for visitors coming to visit San Francisco?

I think wandering through the city is the best way to appreciate it. It is small but dense. It's a city of unique, evolving neighborhoods.


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