New Presidio Parklands Project Concept - James Corner Field Operations Design

The detailed presentation books for all five conceptual designs and proposed plans for the Presidio Parklands Project, the 13-acre project to re-connect the Presidio’s historic core with Crissy Field, are now online.

Direct links to the presentations:

  1. “Presidio Point” Presentation (James Corner Field Operations)
  2. “YoUr Gateway Park” Presentation (Olin)
  3. “Arcs and Strands” Presentation (Snøhetta)
  4. “Presidio Gateway” Presentation (West 8)
  5. “The Observation Post” Presentation (CMG Landscape Architecture)

Additional details for the project, teams and how to participate are available at:

18 thoughts on “New Presidio Parklands Project: The Five Presentations In Full”
  1. I like them all less after reviewing them in detail, LOL. I stick by JCF and Snohetta as my favorites. OLIN tries to hard – it’d make a great project for landscape architecture grad school, but for the real world it tries too hard.

    Sorry, West 8 and CMG do nothing for me – West 8 in particular seems startlingly out of place, an idea someone had just plopped down here for no particular reason.

    Curious how many of them propose building one or more walkways through the Crissy Field marsh, which I presume is a non-starter. Also funny that apparently the Presidio Trust didn’t tell any of them that the smaller brick building at the north end of the west side row was going to be demolished. (At this weekend’s Shakespeare performance, you could see the pile of rubble.)

  2. agree with Sierrajeff ,
    the proposal from West 8 , is just Bizzare , , the only one that I like at all came from CMG , “Observation Post”

  3. I think they’re all too busy with too many little features to distract. What’s wrong with a big sweeping lawn with a few trees, paths and benches heading from the existing parade ground down to the bay?

  4. They’ve eliminated hundreds (thousands?) of parking spaces under the old road structure and the parade ground. We certainly don’t need/want a huge parking lot on the bay, but what exactly is the plan for people to access this area, especially if it becomes an even more popular destination? The Sports Basement parking lot ain’t gonna hack it, and not everyone is able to bike.

      1. That’ll take you three separate bus segments, and 58 minutes each way, assuming everything runs on time and with enough capacity.

  5. JCFO and Snøhetta seem like the only plans even in the ballpark.

    Olin and West — what in the world were they thinking? Terrible.

    And CMG just seems like a strange mishmash of random features.

  6. I like CMG the best by far . Olin is OK. the rest really are hideous in my opinion, and dont fit with the presidio

  7. You guys are cracking me up.

    The Snøhetta is absolutely the worst.
    It’s basically a mesh of trails and a visitor center – boring and unimaginative, a triumph of dubious form over no substance whatsoever.
    The overall design is obviously lazy and it looks like the work of an intern who is on to other things and has no interest in landscape design.

    On to the other projects:

    CMG’s concept is centered around the visitor center and does little for organizing the space around it.
    It’s much better than Snøhetta but I do hope the trust won’t like a concept centered around a visitor center.

    The other three projects offer intelligent and interesting organization of the entire space.
    The West 8’s bowl design is very interesting as but its ‘singularity’ design is a liability, IMO.
    Too risky to put all eggs in one basket.

    This leaves us with the two most serious contenders: Olin and James Corner.
    Both designs are similar, actually, organizing the open space in multiple little islands for different activities.
    Both have elevated vista decks, which will be most visited places by tourists and weekenders.
    Also, the visitor centers in both designs are less prominent, which is a definite plus.

    Olin has taken this project very seriously and it shows.
    Second best is James Corner.

  8. From the preliminary images I wanted to like the Olin and CMG proposals but in the fleshed out proposals both seemed to have too many pieces – good for placating kids with ADD but not good for a lasting design. West 8 seems far too formalized.

    Both JCFO and Snohetta seem to work well. Personally I was drawn to Snohetta’s architectural elements (the overlook in particular, which was much more understated than the preliminary image would have suggested) and JCFO’s overall command of the landscape elements. I would probably factor JCFO simply because of their role at the High Line, which has been perhaps the best example of place-making in this century, but Snohetta’s design may be the one that looks the best 50 years from now.

  9. Not to be too repetitive – I posted my thoughts on all these on the earlier thread. CMG is my fave – love the natural feel of the cascade toward the marsh and bay, and the observation point, and the bridge to Crissy Field. The programming (if it ever comes to pass) is both playful and interesting. The others are either too boring (e.g. JCF has too much grass, West 8 is a weird bowl with a boring connection to Mason Street). It’s good that many of them share common features that hopefully will make it into the final design – vista points, a sunken visitor center with both rooftop and interior view spaces, smaller intimate areas plus one or two larger gathering spaces, wind breaks, etc. But realistically few of those “multipurpose spaces” will be programmed as they propose – think permitting, parking, infrastructure needs for different events, etc.. For instance, camping is a nice idea but if you’ve ever been to the Rob Hill campground in the Presidio you realize how much permanent hardscaping is needed to make it realistic (and accessible, as required by the NPS). So I think it would be better to focus on smaller, more intimate spaces with interesting pathways and a focus on restoration and nature, rather hoping for grand space that get heavily trafficked and are used for big events.

  10. West8 is the only team that acknowledges and shows with their design that the Presidio is a different world than Crissy Field, and that you need something else, and not ‘parasite’ on the existing two beautiful areas. With one big gesture they solve so much, without making things overly complicated. They connect existing buildings, and I like that their design is based on American landscape architecture tradition (a big gesture with just good landscape elements), and adding a native wildflower garden.

    CMG and James Corner make proper designsm and I do like that the offices mainly focuses on landscape and not too much on special shapes and designs, but none of the elements they introduce are mind blowing or memorable. Very traditional with an amphitheater, and a lookout. Why do you need a lookout…the whole connection is already (or should be, if not) a lookout with amazing views! James Corner’s design is more interfering with the Presidio (curved lines versus a hierarchic grid, exactly the opposite of what West8 does)

    OLIN and Snohetta come up with far-fetched artificial shapes (U / arcs & strands). I can come up with another 100 shapes that have something to do with the landscape somewhere in San Francisco or that I can find somewhere in the landscape of the Presidio. Maybe I am just more a fan of first making a good analysis of the existing landscape, and strengthen that with a simple, strong design, than trying to hard to make ‘shaped landscapes’ based on some kind of out-of-the-blue-inspiration.

  11. The JFCO presentation seems to be most in keeping with the spirit and natural geography of SF. The structures and features have a rustic quality, an understated elegance that feels modern and timeless. The spaces are usable and promote social and environmental interaction.

    The Presidio Parklands Project area has the potential to provide visitors and locals with an authentic sense of place. I would hate for it to it turn into an awkward, gawky space that reflects grand ideas rather than the classic character of the region. JFCO gets my vote.

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