Chronicle Graphic: Presidio Proposals (Image Source:
“Over the past 12 years, the nonprofit [Presidio Trust] has renovated hundreds of historic buildings within the 1,491-acre park, many of which had been ready to crumble. The Presidio Trust now leases out these properties as homes and office space. The trust also has approved a handful of projects at the Main Post, including the creation of the Disney Family Museum and the International Center to End Violence. Each project will be located in one of the military barracks after their multimillion-dollar rehabilitation.
Last summer, Gap founder Donald Fisher and his wife, Doris, announced a proposal for a 100,000-square-foot modern-art museum at the head of the Main Parade Ground. That project – proposed as a sleek, modern, glass building – was enough to set off some people. But the proposed museum wouldn’t be the only change coming to Main Post.”
Proposed Contemporary Art Museum Presidio (CAMP):
Proposed Contemporary Art Museum Presidio (CAMP)
“There are also plans for a nearly 89,000-square-foot lodge and a proposal to expand an existing movie theater. Less controversial plans include establishing a history center and transforming the Main Parade Ground to a grassy field with a “walk through time” that maps out the fort’s history.
The analysis to be released today [Editor’s Note: now available, see UPDATE below] will look at the likely impact of: the proposed Contemporary Art Museum Presidio; the 119-room hotel, which also will include meeting space, a restaurant and a bar; expansion of the old Army movie theater, where the San Francisco Film Society wants to two new theaters, a bar and lobby; and the creation of a heritage center. The new Walt Disney Family Museum, which is expected to open next year, will not be included in the analysis because it was approved several years ago.”
Proposed Presidio Theater:
Proposed Presidio Theater
Proposed Presidio History Center:
“Some of the plan’s harshest critics – including the decades-old Presidio Historical Association – are incensed at what they see as an about-face by the trust. The agency worked with the public for years to develop a master plan for the park, as well as strict guidelines for any changes at the Main Post. The new proposals are a severe departure from these documents, which recommend little new construction at the Main Post and suggest that a museum be placed elsewhere.”
UPDATE: The Presidio’s Main Post Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is now available online. The “Proposed Action” calls for the development of all of the above.
Presidio redevelopment plan heads into a fight [SFGate]
Presidio Trust []
Summary of Key Presidio Main Post Projects []
Main Post Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement []
Plans For The Presidio’s Post: Four Alternatives And Visualizations [SocketSite]

64 thoughts on “JustQuotes: Presidio Plans, Proposals, And Preservationist Protests”
  1. As a resident of Cow Hollow I plan to be at the Monday, July 14 at a 6:30 p.m. meeting at the Officers’ Club at the Presidio. Our neighborhood, and surrounding areas will certainly be affected by the increase in traffic if development proposals come to pass. We need to understand exactly what is planned, and make our voices heard. I understand the Presidio Trust has a job to do, but the board is stacked with people whose main purpose is development and this is worrisome.

  2. Just say no! Disney Family Museum? Are you out of you f#&$&ing mind? This is a PARK. For PUBLIC use. I don’t mind paying entrance fees as long as those go toward park maintenance and beautification, but I’ll be damned if I let my money go to the Disney Corporation!

  3. sf,
    Dude, the Disney Museum is already a done deal and opens soon. And no, it is not owned by the Disney Corporation.
    Everything in the plan looks fine to me except for the parking garage under the CAMP.

  4. I can’t wait until this is approved and moves forward and I can’t wait to take my kids to the new Disney Museum.

  5. “….but I’ll be damned if I let my money go to the Disney Corporation…!
    The Presidio isn’t spending a nickel on Disney – it’s precisely the reverse. Disney is spending on the order of $80 million to rehabilitate one of the historic Montgomery St. barracks and two ancillary buildings, which had been empty, decaying and seismically vulnerable.

  6. I don’t mind some of the changes to the Presidio as I understand the need for it be financially self-sufficient. I normally wouldn’t support a Disney museum, but hey have agreed to refurbish some existing buidings – which I think is what the Presidio needs more of – instead of building new buildings that differ radically from the existing structures (unlike the Digital Arts Center).
    I also support projects like the movie theater and bowling alley, as I think those tend to serve residents of the Presidio more than anyone else. Fisher’s museum, on the other hand, is an absolute eyesore. It sticks out like a sore thumb and has no relationship to any of the current building in and around the Main Post. His “world class” art collection is also subjective at best. I’m no art critic, but throwing a few thousand pairs of denim blue jeans onto a great heaping pile and calling it “art” is a little questionable, in my book.
    I’d also want to look into the impact all the traffic would make – as a resident just a couple of blocks outside the Lombard Gate, I can tell you the traffic coming out of the gate during commute hours is already pretty bad.

  7. Why do we need another modern art museum? We have MoMA and we have the DeYoung, and there are modern art exhibitions at the Legion of Honor and other galleries as well.
    I think it’s because Mr. Fisher wants the tax break and boost to his ego for a showplace for his private collection. If Mr. Fisher were to donate his collection to one of the existing museums, he wouldn’t get to decide when and how to show the collection, it might not always be on display for his own personal use.
    We don’t need more development in the presidio. Mr. Fisher should donate his collection to the museums in town, not generate more traffic and use more waste in a new structure.
    I’m not anti progress, it just seems silly and inefficient to have multiple buildings like this.

  8. After years of fighting to protect the Presidio’s architectural
    integrity while on the Presidio Trust, how can Don Fisher now
    propose a building that is absolutely antithetical to that belief?
    This is the wrong building in the wrong place. First of all, it’s
    virtually a generic glass box with no relationship to this site.
    It could be dropped anywhere. And it has no dialogue with
    the buildings around it. In fact, it seems oblivious to them.
    Why not rehab one of the large buildings near Crissy Field
    and add to that? There is less of a need to be fit in there
    because there are fewer historic buildings in that area. Or
    use an historic building as an entry way and put the museum
    underground. There would seem to be many other options.
    I think that the gift of a major museum of modern art is
    a great, generous gesture by the Fishers. And I applaud that.
    But insisting on HIS building with HIS design in HIS choice of
    location strikes me as arrogant and selfish.

  9. g – let me clarify my position a little: It isn’t the design in and of itself, but rather its relation to the other Main Post buildings.
    I’d be more open to the museum being housed in an existing building that would be refurbished, as opposed to a new building that in no way relates to the existing buildings of the Main Post.

  10. I’m hoping the anti-development reaction doesn’t extend to the proposed National Park lodge. It’s natural and appropriate that there be overnight lodging in the Presidio, and if you take a quick trip to Fort Baker you’ll quickly see how spectacular the results can be, if done with sensitivity for the surroundings.

  11. “Gap and Disney, together at last. Yay America!”
    As long as Donald doesn’t wear pants, I’m going to be skeptical.

  12. Fishchum:
    I understand what you’re trying to say. I do understand that in certain instances, relationship to the buildings around you are important because, for example, you don’t want a 50 story tower to be placed in a neighborhood full of SFH. However, I disagree with the notion that any new building must always relate to that’s already there. I think if designed and through about correctly, there’s nothing wrong with an eclectic mix of styles.

  13. as a cyclist who spends a lot of time in the presidio, i too am concerned about the traffic. however, this overall looks to be a win win for the city, especially the museums. I would however be an opponent of any bars opening up as we don’t need more drunken drivers on the streets in the presisio.
    Also, I think that there should be a limit on the number of cars that enter the presidio on the weekend. it would be great if we could close this area of the presidio for car traffic much like what is done with GGP.

  14. Spencer,
    You and I mostly agree on something for once 😉
    I’m not sure this would be a great place for closing off to cars, but I do think that parking needs to be very, very, very limited.

  15. What exactly happened with the Presidio planning? Things were looking so great with the new Crissy Field, the upcoming Lodge and nature centers, but now we have two wealthy San Franciscans (Don Fisher and Diane Disney Miller) who both have decided that they need to take an amazing public space that belongs to ALL of us, and leave their own personal monuments, instead of placing them in parts of the city that could use an economic boost.
    The Disney heiress likes the Presidio Barracks because “it recalls Main Street USA”. UGH!
    Must every part of this city be ruined? Walt Disney has as much to do with San Francisco as Jack Kerouac does with Anaheim.

  16. I am amazed someone could actually say we have enough art museums in San Francisco.
    Think of how Paris,for example, would have been poorly served if that would have been the prevailing wisdom at any time in their history. They open a major new art museum every generation. So should we.

  17. The art museum is great idea by me as Fisher’s collection is unique. But my question is — does this have to be either / or beteeen ;
    a) a mediocre modernist revival structure
    b) incremental, ordinary contextual additions?
    either architectural language would be possible to support at what is a very unusual and sensitive location IF the work was more distinguished. but none of this is.
    Herzog DM , Steven Holl, Norten, Mirelles, Moneo — or Bob Venturi — any of these architects would have to potential to something exceptional in an unusual place. ( and have done so before)
    does the Trust have the expertise and authority it takes to demand and assist great design? the early results would suggest no, and it is unfortunate.

  18. It sucks that my job has to move out there. Now they want to mess with the parking. Boy do I hate this city.

  19. I think it’s great and all that Fisher wants to “donate” his art to a museum for the public, but in the presidio, no. The process through which his museum is being pushed is fraught with nepotism, and why the hell would he not consider another location? What a jerk, seriously.
    The museum would likely get a lot more visitors in a SOMA location and the infrastructure is already there to handle the visitors.

  20. Blech — not another lame-ass glass-box art museum. This town has more than enough art museums, and count ’em — 2 small bowling alleys that are packed to the gills with people. Now we’re going to eliminate one of them? What about recreation for all of us?

  21. g – I agree with your point as well; there are many instances where a radical shift in design can actually enhance an area’s appeal. However, I just don’t feel this is one of them. I think Lucas has already set the precedent that integrating new development with the existing style is the way to go.
    bowling_not_fisher – as I understand it, the bowling alley is being moved, not eliminated altogether. As an avid bowler at Presidio Lanes, I would really be distraught at the idea of eliminating bowling from the Presidio.

  22. That Fisher museum is completely out of context and alters the way that this historic site is rendered visually. I’m not strongly opposed to it being there, but renovate an existing building or build something in context, a la Lucas. But better yet, like others suggested, donate the art to our other wonderful museum resources in the City and support their success instead of competing with them.

  23. Fishchum: Cool, I think I think understand your point of view.
    As for donating the art, isn’t the problem that places like MOMA don’t have enough space for Fisher’s donated art? Are there other places that have enough space for the art?

  24. One of the most famous San Francisco names in philanthropy is Getty, and the Getty Museum, of course, is in Los Angeles.

  25. Going to Zero, Gordon and Ann inherited their money from J. Paul Getty who lived in Los Angeles, NOT San Francisco. The Getty family of San Francisco is only PART of a much larger family spread throughout the world. J. Paul built the “Getty Museum” (now called Getty Malibu) as a memorial to himself and his collection, and the new Getty Museum by Richard Meier is an amazing campus created from the original collection and endowment when there was no more room at the original location. Gordon and Ann Getty of San Francisco have almost nothing to do with the Getty museums of Los Angeles.

  26. So all you folks that are not happy with the proposals, join us on July 14th at 6:30 at the Officers Club and we will see what we can do.

  27. Oh and kudos to Socketsite for posting the illustrations for the proposed developments. Its a great help to visualize what is being proposed.

  28. Northside NIMBYism strikes again. You are opposed to an art museum because it might bring a little extra traffic? We should be talking about building more residential construction in the Presidio, not a few art museums. But if that is all we can get, I am all for it.

  29. I am very much in favor of the Fisher museum, it would make a wonderful addition to the city. The Fisher collection is an outstanding and very important collection of modern and contemprary art. There were long discussions with SFMOMA about housing it there but the museum was unable to accomodate it. There is, I’m sure, some vanity in the Fishers desire to have the collection on display permantely but I also tend to agree that housing much of this collection in a storage unit does not serve the public good or interest. It also is such a large and important collection that it is best seen as a whole, not in little parts.
    As to whether you think we need another new museuem, we need it like we need a football team or a baseball team or a park. I have no interest in sports but I’ve always supported measures that keep major institutuions in S.F. They are vital to building and maintaining a living dynamic city, and even if art is not your thing it all plays in to this. I could go on at length about how art has moved society forward in it’s thinking and asthetics, but there are other places this has been done. The Fischers collection may not ‘be your thing’ but that doesn’t mean it’s works haven’t had major societal impacts and therefore deserve a place to live and be enjoyed. To place them in the context of another important place I think has merit.

  30. “It sucks that my job has to move out there. Now they want to mess with the parking. Boy do I hate this city.”
    I hear Cleveland is awesome this time of the year. Think about it.

  31. DML,
    I think you are missing some of the point–as several have noted, the Fishers’ desire to create a public house for their collection is admirable, but to shove a new structure in a place that is one of few open spaces in SF seems unnecessary.
    The Fishers could just have easily bought one of the abandoned buildings in SoMA, a whole block’s worth, and build a gorgeous, architecturally relevant (like the Getty) museum. But, you see, they would have to PAY for the land to do it. IN this case, the Fishers can get the land for FREE, and then force an ugly, irrelevant building into an open space, that bears no relationship to the buildings arround it, and creates more traffic congestion (there is precious little public transportation to the presidio) and interferes with the enjoyment of the park by cyclists, hikers, joggers, etc.
    This is a stupid, stupid idea, another example of the arrogance of wealth. From what I understand by several art experts, the Fishers’ collection isn’t world class, which has been part of the problem, many museums aren’t that interested and of course the Fishers want total control of the display. Hence this monstrosity and rape of public land.

  32. NVJim & DML – I don’t think most of the comments here object to the Fishers generosity to display their collection to the public; it’s simply that the current design doesn’t fit the existing aesthetics. Why not refurbish one of the exisitng buildings like Pershing Hall, which would offer command views of the bay and Crissy Field?
    I believe the Main Post is designated a Historical Landmark (this is where San Francisco originated) and part of the Presidio Trust’s responsibility is to preserve it as such. How can they say they’re doing this and still apporove Fisher’s design?

  33. design issues aside, i am disturbed that so few voices are being raised about the traffic / congestion that this museum will bring to the presidio (a national park) and all neighborhoods that surround it (esp. the ones with entrances to the presidio, such as cow hollow, the marina, and laurel heights). world-class museums typically register 2 million or more (some, many more) visitors per year. what would our national park look, feel, and sound like with 2 million more visitors per year? how much longer would your commute be? what about your cross-city drive to pick up your kids? how would parking change on your street near the park’s edge?
    how in the world does anyone in their right mind believe that the presidio is the ONLY (let alone the best) location for such a museum? with so much property and development in SOMA, where mass lodging/transportation/etc. infrastructure is already in place and other similar venues/museums are already attracting visitors, why isn’t the Donald (or the city) looking there?

  34. Traffic issues can be directly addressed by constraining parking. So if your only concern about this museum is additional traffic then you should be lobbying for a limited parking footprint, not lobbying against the museum.
    Personally I agree that this museum would be better sited in downtown or SOMA. That’s mainly because I think museums better server the public if they are clustered with other museums and services.

  35. If I’m not mistaken, the Presidio master plan calls for the total square footage of all buildings in the park to remain constant. So even if all the proposals at the Main Post come to fruition, wouldn’t they be matched with the demolition of an equivalent square footage? The 50’s era Baker Beach apartments have always been on the chopping block. As currently occupied residential structures they, too, generate constant traffic to and from the park.

  36. if, as you suggest, we push for restrained parking, then how do you expect people to actually get to the museum from downtown, union square, berkeley, san jose? mass transportation would seem to be the only answer, yet wouldn’t it make a LOT more sense (and cost a LOT less of our taxpayers’ $) to put the museum where that type of infrastructure already exists? and, reiterating something i said earlier, what would our national park look, feel, and sound like with 2 million more visitors per year, regardless of how they arrive?

  37. With all major cultural institutions north of City Hall, there’s a certain cultural redlining of half of the City. I wish this was proposed for one of the Piers south of Mission Bay, where the views are equally beautiful, and where it would be a major benefit.

  38. Could it be that the two “donors” of the two museums that might be built in the Presidio favor this location because they can look down upon their monuments from their homes in the outer Broadway neighborhood? There are far better locations throughout the city than a National Park with spectacular landscapes and historic architecture.

  39. Better yet, if you REALLY want to show your love for San Francisco and do something to help the city, put the museum in one of the economically needy sections of town. Forget Soma, think further south, like Bayview or rougher parts of Potrero. Help breathe some life into these areas.
    Coit Tower was built at the height of the Great Depression as part of the New Deal. The Palace of Fine Arts was built to commemorate the rebuilding of SF after the ’06 quake and the opening of the Panama Canal. When the original stucco edifice was crumbling, a wealthy resident paid to have it rebuilt as a permanent structure. And I believe Adolf Sutro donated the land on which UCSF sits today.
    This is about rich egos clashing, nothing more. When it’s no longer about money, power becomes everything.

  40. sfobserver – people could reach the museum in similar ways as they do the Getty in Malibu which was also built with constrained parking.
    I can see why you’re concerned about getting too many cars in and out of the Presidio. But I don’t understand your concern about adding 2 million visitors (i.e. people) per year. If the Presidio is a public resource, then we should welcome the public to it. The only thing better than 2 million new visitors would be 3 million new visitors.
    If there is really such a demand for visitors, then it should be easier to improve access via public transit and other non-automobile modes.

  41. why stop at 3 million then? let’s get 30 million new visitors moving through the presidio each year. then, when we (somehow) get them there (maybe we should build high-speed rail lines right through the hear of the city?), we’ll house them in tons of luxury hotels, wine/dine them all, host conferences for them if they want us to, bring in the world’s biggest music groups to entertain them…
    That’s EXACTLY what we should be doing in a NATIONAL PARK on a historic site in a magnificent open space. That’s certainly a better solution than putting the same structure, the same art, the same everything, in an already-ready-for-primetime location in the city that’s actually convenient to get to (from all over the Bay Area), zoned for commercial development, and in close proximity to tons of other cultural venues / restaurants / hotels / etc.

  42. i should add that i’m not a tree-hugging environmentalist (not that there’s anything wrong with that/them); rather, i am concerned resident near the presidio that sees this as a land-grab of unconstitutional proportion that could be just the tip of the iceberg.

  43. Based on the Environmental Impact Statement, annual visitors to the Presidio will run between 1,500,000 and 1,800,000 assuming no additional development and between 2,200,000 and 2,400,000 assuming the proposed action (which includes CAMP).
    Parking spaces assuming no new development: +/-1,965. Parking spaces under the proposed action: +/-2,085-2,175.

  44. You think the Metropolitan Museum of Art @ 81st and 5th in New York worries about crowds and congestion? No, those kinds of worries (and the discussion about parking) are just for the effete little bourgeois whiners of San Francisco.

  45. I like on Lyon across from the Presido. Build Build Build. All those years barking about the Lucas Center and it’s only increased my home value by at least 25%. What a great park it is! Yes, we’ve lost some parking, but I’ll take the benefit in a heartbeat. Sure beats the old Letterman hospital disaster that we looked at for years. The Trust is doing the right thing. Build Build Build, but leave some room for kids to play, bike rikes through the Presidio etc.
    Get behind this, it’s great for Cow Hollow!

  46. last time i looked, 81st and 5th in manhattan is in a reasonably well-trafficked, easily-accessible area that also is NOT in a national park. other than that, it’s a perfect analogy.
    also, hard to compare lucas and CAMP — magnitude, impact, visitation, etc. are on a totally different scale.

  47. last time i looked, 81st and 5th in manhattan is in a reasonably well-trafficked, easily-accessible area that also is NOT in a national park. other than that, it’s a perfect analogy.
    also, hard to compare lucas and CAMP — magnitude, impact, visitation, etc. are on a totally different scale.

  48. National Parks should be developed for the interest of the greatest good, not the interest of a few well connected neighbors. The neighbors think The Presdio is for their private use and don’t want anything that would encourage any more visitors.
    San Francisco in general, and the public at large, benefit when the park has additional amenities so that it can be put to its highest and best use.
    I fully agree that we need to develop better transit to and from the park. Maybe this museum needs to include plans for how to get people back and forth. As it is, half the Presidio is mostly empty all of the time anyway.

  49. last time i looked, 81st and 5th in manhattan is in a reasonably well-trafficked, easily-accessible area that also is NOT in a national park. other than that, it’s a perfect analogy.
    also, hard to compare lucas and CAMP — magnitude, impact, visitation, etc. are on a totally different scale.

  50. Anon @ 10:21 – technically, yes, the Met is in Central Park. But it also sits on 5th Avenue, and is easily accesible via subway and bus. To compare Fisher’s site in The Presidio to the Met is ridiculous at best.

  51. The thing that I love about the Presidio is all the older architecture and interesting nooks and crannies to be explored. I like that it is relatively quiet and uncrowded.
    I was against the idea of the CAMP project from the start. The museum itself sounds pretty good, but I think it should be, as others have said, in an area like Hunter’s Point or Mission Bay that could really use some revitalization yet still has the space and resources to really make the most of the museum.
    But actually seeing the map illustration has struck a final blow for me. Why must the bowling alley, with its beautiful mural, a place which is always crowded with paying customers when I visit, be demolished? Why must an historical building like the Red Cross go as well? If it must be in the Presidio, is there nowhere else it can go? Could it not somehow be redesigned, so that the museum is contained within buildings that already exist there?

  52. I see this as extraordinarily obtrusive on a beautiful open space. Why can’t Fisher donate the collection to SFMoma ?

  53. Everyone in SF objecting to the Fisher building ‘having nothing to do with the site’: grow up! every new building should not need to pretend its from centuries ago (fake historical). Unfortunately this one looks to be pretending its from decades ago (50s/60s), but at least its reasonably good modern design, unlike the proposed Theater and History Center shown above, which seem to lack any design merit whatsoever — they look to be more of the typical SF architectural banality we get every day. Most of the Presidio’s architecture is simple and utilitarian, but certainly nothing to be cartoonishly mimicked (particularly in the 21st century)!

  54. It seems as though many of you are missing the point. The real issue is that the Presidio Trust is not upholding the very root of its mission. To uphold the historical character of the National Park. A few things you should all know:
    1 – this plan does nothing to help the presidio become financially self-sufficient. It is stated in plain in in the SEIS
    2 – they would be demolishing not only the bowling alley but the Presidio Child Development Center (one of a very few SFUSD free preschools/afterschool programs. It would also demolish the Presidio YMCA – which serves school children from all over the city.
    3 – The Presidio Trust is under no city or state obligations. It is under Federal protection and law and therefore the only “lesislator” that could help influence this issue is Nancy Pelosi.

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