St. Mary’s Square

St. Mary’s Square, California and Quincy Streets, San Francisco, California

Designed by Robert Royston in 1952

Robert Royston began practicing architecture in the offices of Thomas D. Church on weekends while he was a student in the landscape architecture program at the University of California, Berkeley. He continued to work for Church following his graduation. After returning from military service during World War II, he opened a firm with Garrett Eckbo. Royston taught in the landscape program at UC Berkeley from 1947-1951, teaching students such as Fran Violich, Roy Hanamoto (who became his partner), and Francis Dean. Royston joined with a number of partners over the years, eventually establishing the firm of Royston, Hanamoto, Alley & Abey (RHAA) in 1979, where he worked until his semi-retirement in 1998.


Saint Mary’s Square was designed in 1952 as a park to top a city-owned parking garage, which was replacing the historic park that had been in the same location. It is known for being a quiet piece of open space in between two busy neighborhoods: the Financial District and Chinatown. It holds two significant memorials: a Benjamin Bufano statue honoring Dr. Sun Yat Sen, and a memorial to Chinese-American servicemen in both World Wars.

While adjacent to the International Building, the park difficult to see from afar - street trees and nearby buildings obscure the open space more than one would expect. I intended to mimic the viewpoint taken in the wonderful Anshen & Allen rendering of the International Building and Saint Mary’s Square, but the closest I could manage was a view from near Quincy Street, which borders the Western side of the park.