CFAH

Presidio Commissary Site
The Presidio Trust has received 16 proposals for reusing the former Commissary and current Sports Basement building at Crissy Field as a cultural facility, including one by George Lucas to create the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum on the site.
As many might recall, it was only a few years ago that Donald Fisher and his family abandoned their efforts to build a contemporary art museum at the Main Post of the Presidio having butted heads with NIMBY neighbors and preservationists.
The 15 other concepts for the Commissary site and timing:


Audio/Media tour provider: Tour center for the Presidio (Antenna International)
The Bridge/Sustainability Institute: An education institution integrating the social, economic and natural history of the Presidio. (Chora/WRNS)
Presidio Regional Center: A center for the study of Cities of the Future and a headquarters for ideas to establish a Regional/Metropolitan Form of Governance for the Bay Area’s 9 counties and 101 cities. (Jay Claiborne/Jerry Goldberg)
The Color Lab: A color museum and laboratory “where people can come to explore the great wonder and beauty that is color and what it means to them and how it enhances their everyday lives.” (Color Foundation)
Global Observatory: A cultural center that looks forward, showcases outstanding solutions for creating a better world and accelerates people’s creative impulses to help. (The GO Team)
Presidio Exchange: Extending the core themes of the Presidio to regional, national and international audiences (Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)
PlayLabs: An institution to explore the connections between play and innovation, connecting arts and humanities to sciences and history. (JCC&A)
Green Museum and Environmental Center: Museum chronicling the rise of environmental issues and causes over the last fifty years and a resource and learning center displaying the technology, techniques and trends involved in combating climate change and creating a sustainable society. (Mark Kitchell)
Altered Lands: Design, programming and education strategies to portray how humans have shaped our environment through history, art, science, and cultures as it relates to the Presidio, the San Francisco Peninsula, the GGNRA, the Bay Area, Northern California and the Pacific West. (KV & Associates)
National New Deal Museum: Focusing on the U.S. government’s response to the Great Depression, the New Deal Museum would invite visitors to look to the past, reflect on the present, and provoke thinking about how we as a nation can create a more equitable society. (The Living New Deal)
The Innovation Center: A hub for thought and discussion (Mycotoo)
Michael Heyman Journeys Center: A cultural center with interactive galleries to honor former Cal chancellor Michael Heyman (Larry O’Reilly Associates)
Crissy Field Cultural Center: A proposal to reclaim the landscape back to nature and reuse the building as community centered facility with exhibits, classrooms, work space, public space, and a cafe. (Organic Architect)
History Center of the Golden Gate: A history center for visitors to discover how the West helped shape the nation. (Presidio Historical Association)
San Francisco Media Technology Center: A space to support and encourage innovators, artists, inventors and entrepreneurs (Transmedia SF)
Finalists will be announced in April with the winning concept expected to be announced later this year or early in 2014. The Trust continues to work with Sports Basement to find a permanent replacement location within the Presidio.
Presidio Parkway’s Final Phase And Commissary’s Sporting Days [SocketSite]
Commissary Proposals [presidio.gov]
The Fishers Break CAMP With Respect To The Presidio’s Main Post [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Adam

    Let Lucas build his museum, or my second choice would be the New Deal museum proposal.

  2. Posted by Higgins

    The summary of History Center of the Golden Gate makes it sound like a very meta proposal.

  3. Posted by anon

    Anyone know where the Sports Basement will relocate to?
    Some of these proposals are ridiculous. They have no money and assume it will be a piece of cake to raise $200 million in donations. At least Lucas would have no problem with the funding.

  4. Posted by lol

    I’m a big fan of the current Sports Basement Presidio location. It is the start of many organized events as well as informal gatherings. I hope they find a good replacement.

  5. Posted by Joshua

    How in the world do they expect people to travel to the site? The Fisher art museum was denied due, in large part, to congestion concerns — and it would have been much more accessible. Now with the Doyle Drive project creating a significant bottleneck to access Crissy Field, people thinks it’s a good idea to build a new high-volume destination here? Inconsistent, hypocritical, and ill-advised.

  6. Posted by lol

    I don’t think it will add much car traffic, especially since it might probably be less crowded than Sports Basement.
    It’s a great strolling/cycling destination already. It will be an extra attraction for people going to Fort Point, Crissy Fields, the Warming Hut or the GGB.

  7. Posted by Invented

    Do we really need [a cultural facility] for every topic? If we must, open a branch of another organization since there’s already operating infrastructure & resources. Disney, Presidio history — more @ Presidio.
    This site could be a fine location for a youth hostel served by expanding the F line that was discussed here going to Fort Mason & beyond.
    [Editor’s Note: What The F-Line.]

  8. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    Lucas, by a parsec. That’s the only one among the 16 proposals I would ever visit. As for Sports Basement, it’s become such a hassle to get there since they closed Halleck St. and the pedestrian access from the Main Post that I now go to their Bryant St. location every time. Relocating their Presidio store is just fine by me.

  9. Posted by Dan

    Lucas plans to spend over a $1 billion in total for his museum, including the installments on its endowment. This is a huge benefit for the city and the Presidio. Parking and traffic are issues of course that must be carefully worked out, but aren’t dealbreakers. The Golden Gate Bridge already draws big crowds– many tourists will add this to the same car or taxi trip.

  10. Posted by zzzzzzzz

    I, for one, will sorely miss the Sports Basement. Even though they’re supposedly moving elsewhere in the Presidio, it’s hard to imagine they could find anywhere with as much square footage. I think the Sports Basement counts as a “cultural facility” in its own right.

  11. Posted by anon

    According to the SF MTA, there is NFW that the F-line will ever go beyond Fort Mason (basically 100% of area residents opposed the idea of extending it to Crissy Field).
    I guess if there was enough demand there could be a water taxi or pedicab service from Fort Mason to the Presidio.

  12. Posted by Adam

    An art museum, and one with a tech angle, is the biggest draw in a list filled with various crunchy-granola options. In some ways it is pretty daring, considering how the last art museum proposal panned out. Perhaps it is the most daring work Lucas has done since the original trilogy?
    As for the F-line, two points:
    1. If the residents along the Marina want to cry about their views being ruined, I would point to the once-active railroad that ran along the waterfront, right along Marina Green and into the Presidio. Diesel locomotives moving freight back and forth and all that. The noise would be minimal, the overhead wires would not mar the beauty beyond repair, etc.
    2.I have heard another concern is Marin residents commuting across the bridge, parking in the Marina and Cow Hollow, then taking the line to work. Solution: don’t run the trains to the end of the line in the mornings, problem solved. But apparently they don’t mind when the traffic comes from the other direction and people crowd the neighborhood for events at Crissy Field.

  13. Posted by jlasf

    To me, this is a no-brainer. Lucas is the only proposal with total funding in place – and a future endowment.
    Now that the Presidio needs to be financially self-sufficient, the new museum will bring in revenue through merchandise sales and, I would expect, a restaurant/cafe of some sort attached.
    It’s also thematically related to the Disney Museum. They both feature art that is not “high art.” It’s sort of art for the common man.
    The Sports Basement can go elsewhere. That location has the opportunity to offer a spectacular view of the GG Bridge, something that the Sports Basement doesn’t take advantage of.
    In fact, this is where the Fisher museum should have been placed. That proposal was completely at odds with the historical nature of the Presidio and the intent of the Presidio Trust where, ironically, Fisher was a board member.
    Let’s not be like Marin and screw up the well-intentioned plans of a Lucas project.
    My only concern is that this is where Star Fleet Academy was to be located, according the Star Trek movies. But, perhaps, Lucas has that in mind for the future.

  14. Posted by anon

    What about a museum that honors the contribution of cultural museums to society?

  15. Posted by twinpeaks

    This would be a perfect site for the Starfleet Headquarters.

  16. Posted by eddy

    Any chance we can get some decent food & drinks with some outdoor seating in that location. Or maybe a Beer Garden? I thought the presidio needed to make some money. The last thing this city needs is another special interest focus center.
    @anon 12:52, classic.

  17. Posted by Patrick

    The only reason Donald Fisher was denied is because he was a Republican. If he had been a big ticket donor to the Democratic Party the museum would have been approved.

  18. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    This list of 15 reads like a who’s who of WTF. Lucas FTW.

  19. Posted by Mark

    Let’s see…if the Central Subway was of any use it would continue through NB and under Lombard to a stop in the Presidio. But, I’m sure there would be complaints about that too.

  20. Posted by Alai

    Adam: It would be nuts to cripple the F-line at certain times of day just because of parking problems in the Marina. Deal with parking issues the usual way: residential permits & time limits. 4-hour limit and commuter parking is impossible.
    eddy: the Presidio does need to make money, but as it stands it’s making plenty.
    As for the proposal, I actually like the hostel idea a lot. Not very flashy, but it could be popular without creating large amounts of traffic or big parking lots, and it would create demand for improved transit connections which would benefit locals as well. Add a cafe, and even incorporate one of the museum ideas, many of which don’t really seem like they’d stand on their own.
    I’m tempted by the Lucas idea, but doesn’t he already have a ton of space in the Letterman complex that he didn’t end up using, and rented out to other people, to the annoyance of people who believed that he was going to use it for production facilities?

  21. Posted by Joshua

    “I don’t think it will add much car traffic”
    A billion dollar Star Wars museum won’t attract lots of traffic? Really?
    Also, good point from Alai about Lucas having all that sublet space in the Letterman Center.

  22. Posted by curmudgeon

    This might be considered apostacy, but why a Lucas museum? In 50 years are we really going to care about Star Wars? But I guess if I’m right, in 50 years it can be repurposed as the Justin Bieber Museum (or whatever).
    If he’s the only thing with real bucks, then I expect that will be what happens. But for one, I’d be much more interested in some of the history ideas, or the Golden Gate National Conservancy “Presidio Exchange”. Ideally, the museum should link to the themes of the Presidio, and should be able to adapt with time to become a permanent cultural facility. To me this just seems like vanity…but I’ve never been that into the Star Wars franchise. Jar Jar Binks, anyone?

  23. Posted by spencer

    I propose SPORTS BASEMENT. I really like the store and use it a lot

  24. Posted by futurist

    Even “high art” can be for the so called common man.
    And it should be.
    People, even the common man, quite often are afraid to enjoy/look at/discuss “high art” because they are self conscious about simply expressing their own true opinions. They lack confidence to simply talk about how they enjoy or not enjoy art.
    You don’t necessarily need a degree from Yale to talk about art. You just talk.

  25. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    Wouldn’t Letterman now be leased by Disney? Lucas is retired. And if you read the article about his proposal you would know this isn’t a “Star Wars Museum”.

  26. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Yeah, I just flipped through the Lucas proposal and I like it more. Especially since it honors the artists who’ve been labeled “illustrators”. Their contributions are ubiquitous though the artists and their portfolios have been overlooked. The same goes for the other categories of commercial visual artists that this museum represents.
    The main difference between the Lucas and Fisher proposals is that this museum is located in a less formal, more utilitarian part of the Presidio.
    As for the other proposals, I really like the concept for Altered Lands but this overlaps quite a bit with what the CLUI is doing down in LA.

  27. Posted by Luke

    If Pier 30-32 doesn’t work out, they could always put the new Warriors arena here.

  28. Posted by futurist

    The Lucas proposal is really pretty amazing, his approach to honor artists and creators from many disciplines.
    Plus he can fully fund this project for construction AND endow it with millions for the future.
    What’s not to like. And let’s not just dismiss the Star Wars series of film-making. They have a place in our film history.

  29. Posted by Jus7tme

    How about simply leaving Sports Basement alone and let them do their thing?
    Why is that something always must have to be DONE(*). Leave the Presidio be, dammit!!
    (*) By the way, I know the answer: So that some private enterprise can profit from the giveaway of public lands. Do people never learn? Just look at the very recent (2010?) America’s Cup land and “development rights” giveaway. Phew.

  30. Posted by futurist

    Oh…here’s a thought. Maybe, just maybe Sports Basement is THE WORST use of an amazing location on public land facing the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay of ANY possible use.
    Ever.
    They’re basically a junky warehouse of sports crap made (mostly) in China selling for obscene amounts of money.
    The Sports Basement should never be allowed in the Presidio. Put them in some warehouse in SOMA or farther out.
    So there’s that.

  31. Posted by sparky*b

    Totally futurist,
    They should be put in some warehouse outside of SOMA, like 15th and Bryant or something. That’ll show ’em.

  32. Posted by fishchum

    I agree that Sports Basement may not be the best and possible use of this site, Futurist – but you’re waaaaay off on your assessment of their business. They sell quality outdoor gear at knockdown prices. You may have to look around a little but you can get top-rated gear there for a lot cheaper than anywhere else I’ve gone.
    They also have a dropoff to donate old sneakers and recycle other materials as well. They also actively promote running and biking by hosting races and allowing groups to use their space as a meeting and departure point.
    To label them as “a junky warehouse of sports crap made (mostly) in China selling for obscene amounts of money” really misses the mark.

  33. Posted by sparky*b

    To follow up on best use/WORST use discussion. The best use of the next 3 buildings, all of which actualy face the water and have windows on the active side, is not PRESIDIO WAREHOUSE. But that is what they are. Maybe those location should be made into the best use before the one with the big loading docks that doesn’t face the bay.

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