Patience Is A Virtue

Patience Is A Virtue

An overlook providing sweeping views.
Courtesy Field Operations

The Presidio Trust—the organization that helps manage the Presidio, a park at the northern tip of San Francisco that was once a military post—has selected a winning design team for a 13-acre plot of land near the Golden Gate Bridge.

After abandoning a plan for a nearby site in the Presidio last February, (that included among three final proposals a plan for George Lucas’ art collection), the Trust then launched a new competition last spring.

Last month the Trust announced the winning team for what they have dubbed the “New Presidio Parklands.” The 13-acre park would cover a series of tunnels set to open in 2016 to replace the elevated Doyle Drive.

Children play in the tall grass, with the Golden Gate bridge in the background.

New York–based James Corner Field Operations will take the helm with San Francisco–based architecture firm EHDD (which was a finalist in the abandoned competition and part of a team for the new one, headed by CMG Landscape Architecture). Four other teams were shortlisted, including Snøhetta, OLIN, CMG, and West 8.

Presidio Point, Field Operations’ early concept design for the new park, is somewhat understated, uniting two Presidio landmarks—Crissy Field and the Main Post—through a series of boomerang-shaped lookouts emphasizing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. Key elements include two major intersecting pathways, observation posts, lawns, and serpentine wood benches.

A natural amphitheater for events.

The Presidio Trust hopes to create a more adaptable, connected, and social space on the site. Craig Middleton, the Presidio Trust executive director, noted Field Operations’ “deep appreciation for the site, and commitment to engaging the community” as reasons for selecting the firm.

This marks another major collaborative effort for Field Operations, who is designing and has designed major parks and public spaces worldwide, including the 26-block waterfront park in Seattle, Freshkills Park on Staten Island, Santa Monica’s Tongva Park, Chicago’s Navy Pier, Busan Civic Park in South Korea, and the High Line.


“The new Presidio Parklands site will afford magnificent 360 degree views in all directions, making sense of San Francisco’s geography and place in nature’s larger milieu. The sheer potential unleashed from simply connecting the spaces of the Presidio with those of Crissy Field, the marsh and the bay, is unparalleled,” said Richard Kennedy, principal at Field Operations and lead designer for the project.

The park design is still in its infancy—the Presidio Trust has emphasized that a final design will be shaped by public participation, with workshops in early 2015. A tentative budget is set at $51 million, with over $34 million already met. Several private donors have stepped forward, with a $25 million gift from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, the largest donation to a national park ever. Expected completion is in 2018.