County of Marin - News Releases - South Arch Accessibility

For Immediate Release
November 14, 2014

South Arch Accessibility Improvements Complete

Spruced-up Civic Center entry way transformed for easier mobility

San Rafael, CA – Marin County’s Department of Public Works recently completed a major renovation of the path of travel to the South Arch entrance of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin County Civic Center Administration Building – and added some eye-catching aesthetic upgrades as well.

A shot of the plants vertically planted on the green wall outside the Civic Center.The project, which started a year ago and wrapped up this fall, was part of the County of Marin’s ongoing commitment to safety and the improvement of accessibility for people with disabilities.

One of the most noticeable additions to the South Arch area is the new green wall just off Peter Behr Drive directly under the Civic Center Administration Building at a spot where two parking stalls previously were located. At 24 feet wide and 11 feet high, the installation is a wall of 1,100 lush green plants that beautifies the South Area area along with accents from nearby potted plants and a bench built into the wall. The bench provides a protected area from the wind-tunnel effect that the arch occasionally creates on blustery days.

That part of the South Arch project was designed by Danadjieva Hansen Architects Inc. of Tiburon. “The wall is observed by almost everyone who arrives and departs the main entrance of the Civic Center,” said design architect Fani Hansen. “I think it creates a wonderful first impression for new visitors.”

Project plans were approved by the Marin County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 17, 2013, and the construction was supervised by County Principal Engineer Patrick Echols. The $450,000 project was funded by County’s Capital Improvement Program.

“The living wall enhancement was designed concurrently with the accessibility improvements but funded and constructed separately,” Echols said. “We seized this opportunity to improve this area since it was previously a rather drab Board of Supervisor parking area.”

Vehicular and pedestrian access to the main escalator/elevator entrance at the South Arch was impacted for a few months last winter. Construction crews took out curbs, raised the crosswalk to match the height of adjacent sidewalks and resurfaced the area under the arch. New passenger loading areas improve book dropoffs for the library and other safety enhancements.

The Marin County Civic Center, built between 1959-1962, is a National Historic Landmark, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center Conservancy spent a year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civic Center. Because of the historical designation of the building, special attention is made to ensure that construction improvements maintain the integrity of the original design.

The Department of Public Works’ Disability Access Program and Capital Projects Division applied a “universal design” approach to the project. The term "universal design" was coined by the architect Ronald L. Mace to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of age, ability or status in life. It is the same approach the County used to create the new plaza entry to the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium and accessibility to Children’s Island at the Marin County Fairgrounds.


Patrick Echols
Assistant Director
Department of Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 304
San Rafael, CA 94913
(415) 473-7026
CRS Dial 711
Email: Patrick Echols