George Lucas, the Bay Area resident best known for creating “Star Wars,” wants to help bring a new museum to the Presidio that would house his art collection — and it would surely benefit San Francisco to have another world-renowned cultural institution. But Lucas' proposal for the site across from Crissy Field is not the best idea for that area, and the filmmaker should look elsewhere for his project.
The Presidio Trust is in the midst of the decision-making process, reviewing three proposals to determine the future of the former commissary site, where a Sports Basement store is currently located.
The Trust, which took over operations of the former military base after the government shuttered the facility, selected the three finalists from a pool of 16 applicants.
Lucas' idea is to build a Beaux Arts-style building to house his collection of artworks, which are mostly illustrations along the lines of Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell.
The museum design is a monolithic, domed structure that appears as if it would be more at home at the nearby Palace of Fine Arts than in the Presidio. The design and the use of the building, a nearly totally indoors experience, does not jibe with how residents and visitors use the area, especially Crissy Field.
Another well-meaning proposal is from The Bridge/Sustainability Institute for what amounts to a large science fair.
By far the group that understands what the area needs the most is the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, which wants to build an all-purpose venue that seamlessly blends the inside and outside.
It makes sense that the group understands the design for the Presidio, since it has been involved with other projects, including the fairly recent, and vastly popular, visitors center at Lands End above the Sutro Baths ruins.
The group's idea about what the building is revolves as much around what it is not: one specific use. They intend to bring in artists, music groups and others to use the space. With the success of such art on Crissy Field — a unprotected area — building such an indoor space is sure to work well and be popular.
The Presidio Trust needs to make a decision based on what is correct for the site and the federally owned land.
Lucas' proposal is right for San Francisco, but wrong for the Presidio. The Presidio Exchange project from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy should be the winner.