The Presidio Trust has to make an important decision about the future of the land it oversees, namely a section of Crissy Field, and the agency is smart to slow down and not rush to conclusions without a more thorough vetting of the three project proposals.
The project at the former commissary building, where the Sports Basement is currently housed, is one of the highest profile projects in the Presidio, both for its location and some of the names behind the ideas.
The plot of land sits across the street from Crissy Field and next to Doyle Drive, which separates it from the Presidio's Main Post. But the new Park Presidio roadway will eliminate the divide between the two key areas of the Presidio by undergrounding the street, opening up the possibility of renewed connections for visitors to the scenic parkland.
With views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, the development space may be one of the most iconic in the world, which in itself is drawing attention. Also, filmmaker George Lucas is attached to one of the proposals. His plan is to build a Beaux Arts-style building to house his art collection.
That proposal is a finalist in the competition, going up against The Bridge/Sustainability Institute and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the latter of which has helped build several projects in the Presidio and surrounding Golden Gate National Recreation Area land.
Lucas' proposal has drawn attention from the national media because of his famous name, but also from others, including this newspaper, for how it does not fit into the Presidio. On Thursday, the Presidio Trust released a statement outlining the concerns it has with all three proposals. It says of Lucas' plan, “we have significant issues with the proposed building — its massing and height, and its architectural style — and believe should be redesigned to be more compatible with the Presidio.”
Neither The Bridge/Sustainability Institute's proposal nor the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy's Presidio Exchange proposal escaped scrutiny either. Of the former, the Presidio Trust raised an issue about the size of the building and the sustainability of the programming. Of the latter, the Trust questioned how it will differ from what already exists in the Presidio.
The Presidio Trust surely will take heat for slowing down the process. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revitalize one of the most scenic plots of land in The City, and that type of decision should not be rushed.