In a blow to the proposed Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio (CAMP), the San Francisco Planning Commission recently issued negative comments regarding the Presidio Trust’s plan to build the Richard Gluckman–designed structure in the heart of the former military barracks.
In a letter to the City Attorney’s office dated October 30, the commission stated that the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Presidio Trust Management Plan was inadequate and that it did not fully address the impact of a new museum situated within a National Historic Landmark District. Further, it stated that “the design of the proposed contemporary art museum and the associated landscape plan is too stark of a contrast to the buildings and spaces that would flank it.”
This is a minor victory for the Presidio Historical Association, an ad hoc coalition that has been organizing an ongoing effort against Don and Doris Fisher’s $150 million museum, a white contemporary structure that emphasizes the formal geometries of the Presidio’s Main Post, or former parade ground. As an alternative, it is proposing a history center on the same parade ground site that presents the history of the Presidio, while replicating the barracks typology of the Main Post grounds.
However, the Planning Commission also stated that none of the alternate proposals, including the history center, were a reasonable alternative to the proposed project. Instead, it urged the completion of the Section 106 National Historic Preservation Act review, a mandatory impact review required of all properties listed on the National Register. It felt that Alternative 1, a visitor and community center using the existing buildings, would have the least impact of the four schemes.
While the Planning Commission acknowledged that it has no direct jurisdiction over the federal lands of the Presidio, it urged the Trust to consider the scheme within the plans and policies outlined in the city’s General Plan. The public comment period on the project ended on November 17, and a final decision by the Presidio Trust’s board of directors is expected toward the end of this year.
As an alternative to the often-contentious atmosphere of the CAMP discussions, architect Mark Horton has invited several local architects to present concepts for an alternate vision of a Presidio museum at his 3A Gallery in the South Park district. Architects on board for the show Camp:Reconsidered include Leddy Maytum Stacy, Anne Fougeron, and Kuth/Ranieri Architects. Rather than show finished schemes, the projects—which include a proposal to locate the new museum under the Main Post, and one to locate the museum’s collection in multiple towers scattered around the Presidio—are intended to provide the basis for a more rational and considered discussion of the various issues of a new design within an historic site. The exhibition opened on November 20 and will run until December 23 at the gallery, on 101 South Park.