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01.29.2013
Fixing the Fort
West 8 wins competition to design San Francisco's Fort Mason master plan.
West 8 wins competition to redesign San Francisco's Fort Mason Center.
Courtesy West 8

Fort Mason Center, a military base turned cultural center on the San Francisco Bay, has announced that West 8, a Rotterdam-based planning and landscape architecture firm, will design a new master plan for the 13-acre waterfront site.

West 8’s scheme focuses on seven key strategies: the Fort’s legacy, ecological character, anchoring the Center, naval heritage, activation of the water’s edge, and branding. Their proposal includes a sinuous, partially-below-grade “gateway” building—the only completely new structure in the proposed master plan—housing the Center’s administrative offices.

 
 
Renderings showing the proposed transformation of the Pier 1 warehouse into an art-themed hotel. [Click images to enlarge.]
 

In what may be one of the more contentious changes, the plan envisions the transformation of the Pier 1 military warehouse into an “art-oriented” hotel. Past proposals for privately-operated hotels in the Presidio and Fort Baker met with considerable public opposition before eventually being opened.

The firm’s selection was the culmination of a design selection process that began with 20 invited firms. The list was then narrowed to three firms who prepared conceptual plans for the Center. The other two finalists were teams led by Bruner/Cott and AMP Arquitectos.

 
   
The sinuous new entry pavilion (top, left); barges with pedestrian space and swimming pools will be moored alongside the piers (center, right). [Click images to enlarge.]
 

The Fort Mason Center was created in 1977 from the former military complex of the same name. It is administered by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, part of the National Park System. Overseen by a nonprofit board, the Center houses numerous nonprofit cultural and arts organizations and contains several large venue spaces. While the Center occupies some of the most desirable waterfront property on the San Francisco Bay, its facilities lack a cohesive urban concept and public access continued to be problematic.

 
Renderings show proposed changes along Fort Mason's piers. [Click images to enlarge.]
 

The West 8 team is comprised of nine firms and, incidentally, was the only team of the three finalists that included Bay Area designers and consultants. The design process will proceed as funding is identified; no firm timetable exists.

In addition to West 8, the team consists of: Jensen Architects, Bionic Landscape Architects, Architectural Resource Group, Ila Berman (all San Francisco based). Other consultants included Moffat & Nichol, HR&A Advisors, Langdon Associates, and Impark.

George Calys

 

 
 
Site plan (top; existing conditions at the fort Mason Center (right); when the center was still used by the military (left). [Click images to enlarge.]