It’s not often that an eight-acre urban waterfront site becomes available for development as a public cultural space. In late September, three finalists (selected from 16) presented unique visions for San Francisco’s mid-Crissy Field, a park in the Presidio along the San Francisco Bay. The exact site was once a commissary and is now occupied by a sporting goods store.
The teams’ proposals present an expansive range of ideas—from overall site planning, to facility design, to finances, to event programming.
“This project is important to the Trust’s goal of welcoming the public to the Presidio by providing a diverse set of experiences,” said Craig Middleton of Presidio Trust, the management company who, along with the National Park Service, manages the parklands. Over 800 public, residential, and commercial buildings sit in the Presidio, a former military base that closed in 1996. The Presidio Trust authored strict planning guidelines to ensure historic and environmental preservation.
Architecture firm WRNS Studio and consulting firm Chora proposed The Bridge/Sustainability Institute. They want to give visitors an opportunity to explore sustainability on a mixed-use 140,000-square-foot site. The plan would feature rotating exhibits on nature and science. The team also proposed a hybrid market and cafe as well as public gathering spaces to provide views of the water, the Golden Gate Bridge, neighboring bluffs, and the city. “Situating the Bridge on this threshold site will be a powerful statement about what our National Parks can do to inspire a deep respect for cultural richness, social justice and environmental stewardship,” said Jeff Warner, founding partner of WRNS Studio. The design weaves connections between natural and manmade environments, added Warner. For instance pathways will flow under and through the building and its landscaped spaces.
Another proposal, led by Urban Design Group and Cheryl Barton for filmmaker George Lucas, presents a more traditional design approach. Echoing the region’s historic architecture, a Beaux-Arts inspired museum would house exhibits and programs on visual media, including illustrations and digital works from Lucas’s personal collection. The two-story, 97,000-square-foot museum would also include a lecture hall, theater, cafe, and gift shop.
A third team, with design by EHDD, posited the merits of keeping most of the site as open space. In “Presidio Exchange” (dubbed “PX”), the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy emphasized the importance of engaging with the history of the Presidio and the region. A 97,000-square-foot facility built in two phases would include a commons area, a picnic pavilion, and an outdoor amphitheater. A central element is the Living Room—an X shaped, two-story public meeting hub uniting a multifunctional room, a cafe and retail shop, residency programs, and an event venue. Expansive floor-to-ceiling glazing would give visitors the feeling of being immersed in the landscape. The plan will repurpose 25,000 square feet of the former commissary building into a flexible program space.
The Presidio Trust will announce the winning proposal in late fall.