Presidio, Take 2

Presidio, Take 2


Work is underway to remove the elevated Doyle Drive and replace it with an at-grade parkway and a series of tunnels, set to open in 2016. Much of the 13 acres would lie above these roadway tunnels.

The Presidio Trust has asked the teams to fulfill three key criteria: to imagine what the new landscape above the roadway tunnels could become, to remake the Presidio Visitor Center and to rethink the Crissy Field Center Youth Campus.

Just released to the public on Thursday, the five proposed concepts are diverse and ambitious. Each provide areas throughout the 13 acres for exploring, learning, and relaxing.

Presidio Point — James Corner Field Operations (New York)

Of New York City’s High Line fame and the lead designer in developing Seattle’s new waterfront post viaduct replacement, James Corner Field Operations imagines an array of dramatic boomerang-shaped lookouts, maximizing water and bridge views. “We believe design shouldn’t shout,” Principal James Corner explained in his design pitch, which is now available online. “We see [design] as a platform where everything else is amplified and concentrated and made even more dramatic, theatrical and more palpable than it is today.”

The firm sees the site as a gateway and connection point to San Francisco and beyond. Their plan opens and preserves views through expansive lawns, overlooks, observation posts, cantilevered walls, and serpentine sculpted wood benches. A central meeting point is the Zocalo (which means plinth in Spanish), which helps connect two major pathways, the northeast-southwest-oriented Anza Esplanade, and the southeast-northwest-facing Cliff-Walk.

Arcs and Strands — SNØHETTA (Oslo/New York/San Francisco)

SNØHETTA, also working on the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art wing, proposes extending the area’s marshlands and engineering extensive cascading bluffs above the tunnels to highlight views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. They call for repurposing buildings lining Halleck Street for food venues and using the street itself to hold events like camping and food truck festivals.

They also acknowledge the challenges of bringing in the new while preserving the cultural and historical aspects of The Presidio. “We ask time to stop,” said principal Craig Dykers in his design presentation. “But holding back time and letting it flow don’t naturally coexist.” They balance the geometric (the “strands" of their conceptual buildings) with the geological (or the “arcs" of the proposed landscape). There are adaptable terraces, a post office repurposed as a cafe, and the quartermasters building converted into a makers market. But perhaps most significantly, SNØHETTA expands the marshland to allow for better water flow from canals to bay.

Your Gateway Park — OLIN (Philadelphia/Los Angeles)

Explicitly woven throughout OLIN’s concept is the “U”: “a magnet, a frame, a launch pad, a point of departure, a place to orient,” as they describe in their presentation book. Their designs, like a U-shape, focus inward on what they call the tactile or “microscopic” experience, but also outward to the horizon or the “telescopic.”

They’ve aligned this concept to various elevations in the park. They see people moving through the landscape at several different levels, from the high, broad views to deep into the landscape. An observation deck and a long linear path, "The Runway" provides those expansive views, leading to a serpentine walk and large multi-purpose fields, and finally giving way to a path cutting through marshland gardens. They are also proposing a tandem smartphone app, U-SCOPE, to help guide visitors through the landscape.

The Observation Post — CMG Landscape Architecture (San Francisco)

CMG Landscape Architecture unites the 13 acres of parkland through a focus on programming, creating “clear and inviting interaction between the Main Post, the East Beach and the historic airfield,” explained Scott Cataffa, principal at CMG, in his design presentation. Wind gardens with undulating fences shape protected spaces for fire pits and learning spaces, while helping tie the different ecological landscapes together. A lounge with a large overhang gives visitors multiple ways to view the bay. There is also the Cyanoscope Underlook, a circular structure with an oculus, and the Ohlone Meadow, a field filled with giant bright orange poppies.

Presidi-o — WEST 8 Team (Rotterdam/Brussels/New York)

A center point of West 8’s design is a pedestrian bridge that rises over the marshlands, connecting the inland to the waterfront. Another key element is a bowl-shaped landscape that covers the tunnels, surrounded by a series of distinct oval and ring-shaped zones. A promenaded surrounds a colonnade, which surrounds a native wildflower garden. “Design is about dignity,” said Adriaan Geuze, design director of West 8 in his design presentation. Multipurpose spaces could host a series of diverse events: Veterans’ Day, concerts, family kite festivals and even camping night, with room to hold more than 200 tents.

The Presidio Trust also invites the public to pitch design ideas online through March 2015, as part of ideaSFest: . In January, the Presidio Trust will select a team or a series of teams to develop a lead design for the site. They have not yet set a budget.