New, final Presidio museum proposals are in

Pub date January 17, 2014
SectionPolitics Blog

The final round of project proposals for the Crissy Field Presidio site are in, and boy do they sure look… almost exactly the same as the last round. 

The Presidio Trust was fairly critical of each of the three finalists for the current site of the Sports Basement, which will soon lose its prime real estate. The Bridge Institute, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Presidio Exchange, and Star Wars creator George Lucas’ personal pop art collection are all duking it out for a little patch of green (which is worth a lot of green) by the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Everyone in San Francisco has an opinion on who should win the spot: Mayor Ed Lee and tech venture capitalist Ron Conway want George Lucas’ museum to win (as do most tech folks with money), every environmental group out there wants the Presidio Exchange to get the space (including the Sierra Club), and the Chronicle’s design writer John King just wants Lucas to use the old Palace of Fine Arts site, dammit.

The Presidio Trust, a presidentially appointed entity, has the final say. And what it said last time was this: give us new proposals.

The Lucas proposal was too big, and the Trust felt it needed to be “redesigned to be more compatible with the Presidio.” The Presidio Exchange, it said, struggled to find a theme programatically. It lacked focus. As for the Bridge Institute? The Trust was worried it didn’t have the money to build with at all. 

Now everyone is back with new plans, in force.

George Lucas responded to the critique that his museum was just too darn big:
“Relative to the issue of ‘ensuring the building’s compatibility with the Presidio’ we are submitting two new design concepts for your consideration that we believe address the issues of massing and height. We have worked diligently the past few weeks with our architects at Urban Design Group and other members of our team to develop a new design that we believe will meet the criteria outlined by the Trust while providing the best home for the collection and its diverse cultural and educational programs. We are submitting two designs for your consideration, with the intent that if the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum is chosen for the Crissy Field site, you will identify the design you would like to see further developed.”

So it’s the same beast, just you know, smaller.

The Presidio Exchange folks, on the other hand, decided that since their programs lacked clarity, they’d make a flow chart. It’s good to know that they strive for consistency.



The final conceptual image of the PDX.

And as for funding the Bridge Institute? It wants to put a member of the Presidio Trust to work helping it raise money.

“The trust and Trust Board would make its network of contacts available to the BRIDGE fundraising team, and assist in making positive contacts with those contacts as part of the fundraising efforts of the organization,” it wrote. In other words, Presidio Trust, help us raise the dough, please. Presidio Trust President Nancy Hellman Bechtle is wealthy, but there’s no telling if she’d tap her wealthy friends to help the Bridge Institute. 

“We appreciate the effort each team has made to further develop its proposal for the Mid-Crissy Field site,” Becthle said, in a press release. “In the weeks ahead we will evaluate the revised proposals, weigh the wide range of public comments, and make a decision that will stand the test of time. This is a remarkable opportunity for the Presidio and San Francisco and we look forward to the public’s continued engagement.”

Love the designs or hate them, the public’s last chance to comment will be at the Public Board  of Directors Meeting to be held on Monday, Jan. 27, 6:30 pm in Herbst at the Presidio.

You can read all the museum proposals for yourself, here.

And while you’re at it, check out our front page story covering the founding of the Presidio, and how that history shaped the museum proposals.