Palace of Fine Arts may get makeover

New benches, lights and trees similar to those that provided shade 91 years ago are slated to take root at the Palace of Fine Arts Park if the redesign work on the national landmark gets the green light today.

In addition to landscaping work, the latest installment in a $21 million, four-year restorative effort — dubbed Campaign for the Palace of Fine Arts — includes removing 14 metal doors and louvers on the colonnade and rotunda and replacing them.

The aging doors need to be replaced because they are a safety concern, said Jan Berckefeldt, executive director of the Maybeck Foundation. The nonprofit, named after the Palace’s architect, Bernard Maybeck, has raised $14.8 million to restore the landmark to its 1915 splendor.

The project started in 2004 with the re-roofing of the rotunda dome. Ayear ago, landscape experts began restoring the lagoon. The lagoon work is slated for completion in about a week, Berckefeldt said.

Other plans include making seismic upgrades and the planting of plants to provide food and shelter for birds and lagoon wildlife.

The campaign to renovate the Palace was launched in 2003, as the structure fell into disrepair. It was reconstructed in the 1960s, with little work since then.

The backdrop for movies ranging from “Vertigo” to “So I Married an Axe Murderer” draws about a million visitors each year, Berckefeldt said.

The landmark — well-known as a site for wedding photographs — will likely have fewer bridal customers once the rotunda and colonnade work gets under way, said Kevin O’Brien, executive director of the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.

The latest proposal is likely to take about a year to complete.

The City’s Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board is today scheduled to consider the proposal. The panel is expected to authorize that the work begin.

mcarroll@examiner.com

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