Karen Alschuler

Principal, San Francisco

Karen describes her life as the “great cities tour.” Her upbringing, education, and career have brought her from coast to coast, continent to continent. Her passion for travel is fitting as her love of urban design first blossomed from a deep interest in maps. Karen enjoyed drawing maps as a child – she drew maps for family road trips and even won a prize in 7th Grade for a relief map she created of Antarctica for the International Geophysical Year. Her ability to see the big picture, the world in all its layers, is one of the many reasons Karen has had a successful career in urban design.

In urban design, a successful project does not happen overnight. With Karen’s urban district transformations, it can take 5-20 years to realize the spaces and places enabled by the team’s plans and designs. With a long career in the profession, Karen is now enjoying completed key projects in big cities across the U.S.  Just six months ago, a drop in visit to The Yards in DC revealed a typical Friday evening concert with 1,000 people stretched out on the lawns and in the restaurants enjoying this new waterfront destination.

Married for more than 50 years, Karen and Bill now prefer taking in cities and sites from a bicycle seat. Itineraries for the last 11 bike trips have varied from Northern Thailand to the Canadian Rockies, and the San Juan Islands to the Puglia hill towns. She adopts cities with a passion and holds dear her home base connections to Chicago, Boston, New York, and San Francisco.

Treasure Island Master Plan
Treasure Island Master Plan
The result of this plan is an extraordinary San Francisco neighborhood, an aspirational system of integrated strategies for living responsibly on the land, and a place of beauty, health and community.
Mission Rock Master Plan
Our design includes 8 acres of public open space including a 5-acre park with a shoreline walkway and great lawn that can function as a major outdoor amphitheater, and vibrant town square located within the heart of the development.
Mission Bay Master Plan
Our Mission Bay plan and design guidelines will bring 30-40,000 top quality jobs to the heart of San Francisco and stands as an international model for innovation districts, large scale urban brownfield redevelopment and community involvement in a planning process
Southeast Federal Center, The Yards, Master Plan
The new waterfront park, which opened in the summer of 2010, has, for the first time, created a public connection between the surrounding communities and the riverfront.

Karen's Featured Work

Mission Rock
San Francisco, California
Potrero Power Station
San Francisco, California