MFLA Munden Fry Landscape Associates is a San Francisco-based landscape architecture and urban design studio established in 1990. Believing that the landscape is a potent and lasting form of cultural expression, Marta Fry and James Munden lead the Studio with a shared vision to explore, reveal, and transform an environment. Some of our projects receive a light touch; a re-structuring or balancing of their inherent natural beauty, while others demand a re-calibration and re-interpretation of the site and the emergence of a new vision is designed. In all instances there is both a strong design and environmentally grounded rigor that forms the foundation of our process.
The Studio’s commissions comprise a diverse portfolio, one that intentionally blurs the boundaries between design disciplines. Underlying all our projects is the interest and exploration of the dynamic between landscape and architecture. At every scale, MFLA approaches each new project with a site-specific response rather than a signature design. Our experience in placemaking and developing site and project-specific identity is represented locally, nationally, and internationally.
The thoughtful design of significant private and public open space worldwide is playing a critical new role in building ‘green infrastructure’. This is essential to sustainable communities. Our philosophy is that vital, sustainable, enduring and compelling work and living environments are the result of the creation of places that resonate with their context, that create value through experience, and that establish an unmistakable level of quality and high degree of timelessness.
Mission Creek Park North is one of the first public parks developed within Mission Bay’s 49-acre system of open space. Framed by mid-rise and tower residential developments, Mission Creek, and a thriving, eclectic house boat community, this park creates both a physical and visual link between San Francisco’s existing urban fabric and unique waterfront environment. MFLA developed a linear park with a series of plazas, a generous 20’ esplanade that follows the length of the Mission Creek Channel, and the Sports Park which was developed underneath the existing I-280 freeway ramp. Formerly a low-lying industrial brownfield where frequent flooding occurred, the park was designed as a primary defense in intercepting, filtering and reducing stormwater flows through a series of weirs, cobble fields, and overland flow channels. Deferential settlement was designed with pile supported structures and hinge slabs and a flexible paving system to allow for settlement and ease in stormwater mitigation. The park’s estuarine banks, once urban dumping grounds, have been reengineered and stabilized with wetland plantings and are now a thriving habitat for waterfowl. The park represents a decade of community outreach, planning and phased implementation, and is now home to the diverse Mission Bay community. This park is part of MFLA’s larger masterplan for Mission Bay’s open space and streetscapes, a total of 49 acres.
MISSION BAY, SAN FRANCISCO, CA | 1999-2011
Nestled at the base of Sonoma Mountain, this 160-acre residential vineyard site marks a ten-year collaboration of site evaluation, master planning, vineyard and cider orchard planting, and ancillary structure development. A strong agricultural vocabulary was developed relying on the repetitious potency of patterned windrows, hedgerows, vineyards, and orchard grids. The project represents an assemblage of buildings within a carefully modulated landscape, a modem villa framed in an agrarian setting. Vineyard layouts and agricultural requirements greatly informed MFLA’s master plan with agricultural patterning taking precedent. The owners’ interest in cartography influenced the Main House siting and other site elements reflecting in a true north-south orientation, with windrows further reinforcing this axis. A quiet palette of limestone, quartzite, cor-ten steel, ipe, glass, sandstone, concrete and stone gravels form the building blocks of the structures and site. A rectilinear reflecting pool slides along the entire length of the house. The vineyards then meet the edge of the house, pushing the boundaries of the agricultural landscape, and further strengthening the relationship between the built and the land. The Sonoma Vineyard is a project in which agricultural acumen combined with a strong horticultural expertise, and great attention to detail and craft, resulted in a minimal, agriculturally rooted assemblage.
GLEN ELLEN, CA | 1998-2008
The Pinterest Mews is a passageway that connects Brannan Street to Bluxome Alley in San Francisco. A shortcut, a pause, a sit, this mews provides both a garden retreat and a circulation spine to the new Pinterest Headquarters. Designed to be both a connector and an extension to the transparent Pinterest lobby’s moveable curtain wall, the site is composed of angled steel planters embedded with cedar slatted benches, forming a complex geometry and relationship of planter to seating. The design intent utilizes the planters to spatially organize circulation and define axes while the slatted benches provide an integrated seating system, creating a suspended or cantilevered effect. Multi-trunked Paperbark Maple, Acer griseum, underplanted with Autumn Ferns, Dryopteris erythrosora, thrive in this eastern exposure. New streetscape frontages at both Brannan and Bluxome and a private roof terrace completes the composition. The project meets rigorous water management standards, storing and reusing rainwater for irrigation of the planters and other water usages in the adjacent buildings. With this we continue to build upon our believe that sustainability is an opportunity to balance integrated solutions with aesthetically beautiful features in the design.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA / 2014-2018
The Hayes Collection consists of four distinct projects with one development team that inserts new mixed-use housing into the remaining interstitial parcels of the San Francisco Hayes Valley neighborhood. The removal of the City’s central freeway ramps after the Loma Prieta earthquake and the creation of Octavia Boulevard in 2005 provided infill opportunity on typically small and oddly configured parking lot parcels. Each are crafted projects with different architectural styles from Saitowitz, Fougeron, Handel, and Edmonds & Lee. In a popular neighborhood with a scarcity of open space and a tired streetscape, MFLA had the unique opportunity to stitch these projects together developing an identifiable language through streetscape development, courtyards and roof terrace amenities, crafting an ensemble of projects that are unique to Hayes Valley. 8 OCTAVIA is a gateway building into Hayes Valley. The entry lobby and restaurant are open to our sculpture court, and public and private roof levels were developed for commanding views in all directions. 400 GROVE’s bamboo grove and moss garden create a filtered scrim between units. 450 HAYES’ internalized courtyard has birch saplings and an understory of ferns functioning as a stormwater basin. PARCEL T, currently in planning, will re-imagine the streetscape frontage, providing a linear park streetscape.
HAYES VALLEY, SAN FRANCISCO, CA | 2012-2020
The Fish Pavilion was a temporary exhibit at Slow Food Nation ’08, a three-day inaugural event attended by 85,000 people from across the county. Built largely from repurposed commercial fishing materials and serving 36,000 tastes of local fish prepared by top chefs, this immersive educational environment engaged attendees in the vital relationship between environmental stewardship and food. MFLA partnered with Monterey Fish, a unique collaboration between fish monger-food curator and designer-landscape architect, approaching themes of movement, sequence and materiality to engage visitors and evoke the visual and textural bounty of coastal waters. The spatial layout distilled the forms of traditional fish traps with their curving organic shapes and broad entries. Utilizing translucent fabric scrims, MFLA created a series of undulating rooms as well as a surface for projecting educational imagery of salmon runs and the dramatic black and white Ichthyo x-ray images of sea life from the Smithsonian collection. Anchoring the exhibit was the ‘Bella Vista,’ supported by crab trap ‘oyster filled gabbions’ displaying a composition of seafood and defining the exhibit for discourse and dialogue. Suspended overhead was a 12’ wide jellyfish-inspired chandelier crafted from translucent panels and fishing weights. By design, all exhibit material was dispersed to other uses resulting in 100% diversion from the waste stream.
FORT MASON, SAN FRANCISCO, CA | AUGUST 2008