Revised Presidio Main Post Plan and CAMP Design
As a tipster and sfcitizen point out, the revised plans for the Presidio Main Post (including the Contemporary Art Museum Presidio (CAMP)) are now online. With respect to new plan for CAMP:

The two new buildings for the art museum will be located on different sites to lessen the visual impact of new construction. They will be connected by an underground tunnel.

The new construction on both sites will be modulated into volumes that are in scale with the adjacent historic structures. Building materials will complement the Main Post material palette and respect the color and texture of the adjacent historic buildings.

The architectural style of the new buildings will be compatible with the simple, straightforward architecture that characterizes the Main Post, but the detailing and design will be differentiated from historic Main Post buildings.

The building located south of Moraga Avenue will be mostly underground, with only about six feet of its two-story height above ground. This portion of the museum will measure about 100 by150 feet and will have a flat roof. Its Moraga Avenue façade will look like a planted retaining wall with only a small section containing the loading dock door and staff entrance.

The new gallery building will consist of two stories, with one above ground. The building will have a footprint of approximately 100 by 300 feet that is oriented to the Main Post grid.

That’s quite a change from the original design. And one can’t help but wonder if that’s what they had planned all along.
Presidio Main Post Update – February 2009 Plan [presidio.gov]
Just Released: Revised Plans for the Presidio Main Post [sfcitizen]
JustQuotes: Presidio Plans, Proposals, And Preservationist Protests [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by jlasf

    While there are no architectural drawings on the Presidio plan yet, this certainly sounds like they might be headed in the right direction. Mostly underground, height conforming to surrounding structures, and elements to match existing buildings. All good.
    But why the Hell didn’t they do this to begin with? This approach is a no-brainer to anyone who cares about the historic character of the Presidio. And since Don Fisher served on the Presidio Trust, one would think that he would care. I will hold my applause until after I see the drawings from the architect. I guess the public reaction knocked some sense into their heads.
    This won’t solve the problems for people who don’t want the traffic and crowds that this might create. But that, for the moment, is a different debate.

  2. Posted by Joe

    Fer Crissakes!
    This town and its excessive handwringing over any and all change.
    People are losing their jobs left and right – banks are failing – many industries are barely making it – and what do we spend our time figting over?
    The design of a free art museum which would house what is likely the most prominent collection of contemporary art in the WORLD!
    Seriously? arguing over the color of the roof?
    Please please please give this museum to a less provincial town. We seriously dont deserve it.

  3. Posted by Louis

    The plan part of this looks good; its thoughtful and done “right”. And it should have been dont right the first time.
    BUt there is no architectureal design for the museum, and i think everyone knows that unless that gets a lot better than the last version- which was really bad – it will become a lightning rod again and sandbag the entire plan.
    So heres hoping the trust and fisher are smart enough to get that part right this time around.

  4. Posted by flaneur

    Joe – Are you saying because the economy is hurting, we should stop caring what buildings look like?

  5. Posted by art lover

    “The design of a free art museum which would house what is likely the most prominent collection of contemporary art in the WORLD!”
    Oh PLEASE, do travel a bit before making such a claim. This collection is interesting, but is not nearly as important or prominent as you think.

  6. Posted by EH

    There are already Presidio buildings large enough to house this museum.

  7. Posted by Joe

    I guess I’ll disregard all those major art publications that describe the collection as unparalled as far as contemporary art collections.
    Do some googling..
    “Neal Benezra, the director of SFMOMA, hailed the Fisher collection as “one of the most important in the world,” with an exceptional depth and breadth.”

  8. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Joe – the fact that the economy is in chaos is not an excuse to make bad decisions. In fact it is a good reason to avoid making more bad decisions.
    Color choice has little or no effect on cost, but a big effect on aesthetics.

  9. Posted by Alexei

    “Neal Benezra, the director of SFMOMA, hailed the Fisher collection…
    That would be the same SFMOMA that Fischer has contributed millions to, yes? Not exactly a disinterested party.
    Oh well, I’ll reserve judgment till I see it.

  10. Posted by lolcat_94123

    “The two new buildings for the art museum will be located on different sites to lessen the visual impact of new construction. They will be connected by an underground tunnel.”
    wow. have we become that big of (insert expletive) that we can’t even handle a little construction without its negative “visual impact” ruining our day?! so now we have to make underground tunnels? good lawd. this town is just one big epic FAIL sometimes.

  11. Posted by Nimby Pamby

    Exactly! In fact all new construction in San Francisco should be exclusively underground in order to minimize the impact on MY light and air – oh and parking.

  12. Posted by EH

    so now we have to make underground tunnels? good lawd. this town is just one big epic FAIL sometimes.
    No, the FAIL is Fisher’s. The words you quote are a direct admission that nobody wants to look at their stupid museum in that location.

  13. Posted by curious

    Could somone remind me why this was the only spot in the entire Bay Area that Fisher is willing to consider for his collection?

  14. Posted by Craig

    Can someone remind me why so many people are so eagerly lined up to examine the teeth of this gift horse?

  15. Posted by flaneur

    curious – I hear it is the only location that comes with parking.

  16. Posted by EH

    Ha ha, Craig do you work for the Gapmeister or any construction interests?

  17. Posted by craig

    Of course! I couldnt possibly just want a world class art museum the likes of which SF has never seen before – and which thousands of people a year would enjoy.
    Nope, anybody who wants positive change for SF must be in it for THE MONEY!

  18. Posted by jeff

    This is not NIMBYism. This is not anti-change. Those who are concerned want to know why Fisher feels the only suitable site for his collection is a public park within a historic setting? In Europe they put new museums within old power stations, old industrial wharfs, or to help transform neighborhoods like the Marais in Paris.
    So if another buzzilionaire wants to put “his” art in Union Square, or the Marina Green, that should be O.K. also?
    This reminds me very much of the Getty in L.A., where the plutocrat decided to locate “his” art far away from the urban center in the Santa Monica hills so that urban “undesirables” who did not have cars could not drive to the wealthy part of L.A., park, and ride the monorail up the hill to see the collection.

  19. Posted by Clueless

    @Jeff, not to point out the obvious — ignorance — here, but the Getty location was chosen because it was the site of the Getty Villa. LIke many old houses, it made more sense to transform it into public space.

  20. Posted by spencer

    I am all for this as long as there is ZERO new automobile traffic in the presidio on weekends.
    Would really love to see the Presidio close to cars on the weekends!

  21. Posted by MArch

    First, Spencer, good call, bud. Let’s build a $100MM building where nobody can access it. Might as well stick this thing in Stockton.
    Second, they have really dropped the ball architecturally. I’d like to see a project that relates much better to the surrounding context. This project has no real sense of entry or arrival. The stitching of layers at the border do nothing to create a sense of place or a welcoming “space”. Where is the anticipation one should feel when approaching such an iconic piece? I’d like to see the piazza activated with vibrancy. A permeable edge would contribute to this effect drastically.

  22. Posted by EH

    I think it’s telling that the supporters can only rely on cheerleading rather than actual reasons why this is a good idea. “Because it IS!”

  23. Posted by Jake

    I’ve said this before but this is a horrible idea and not the right location. Not only is the Presidio supposed to be a “park” but the appearance of the museum is literally irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. I’m no NIMBY, I welcome high rise development along Van Ness, Lombard, etc., and am a Pac. Heights resident, but this is simply not the right location for this establishment in terms of land use. This should be downtown, Fischer initially approached SFMOMA about receiving his collection, and that’s really where it should be in my opinion. Let SFMOMA expand because, let’s face it, as much as we might all ooohhh and ahhh about this relatively small collection, the vast majority of SF residents will hardly visit it, it will be a tourist draw and it makes very little sense to locate it in such a way that tourist access is severely limited due to relatively minimal public transport.

  24. Posted by Spencer

    “First, Spencer, good call, bud. Let’s build a $100MM building where nobody can access it. Might as well stick this thing in Stockton.”
    That was my point. It doesn’t belong in a national park. this park is for walking and cycling and enjoying green space and enjoying the only forest in the city. We do not need $100M bldgs or world class art in this location. there is plenty of space in SOMA for an art museum. I am no NIMBY either but would love to protect one of the few open spaces that we have for recreation. there are already way too many cars in the presidio.

  25. Posted by jeff

    CAMP, like the Getty, will be a remote castle of privilege far away from public transportation and the majority of urban residents and visitors.
    “@Jeff, not to point out the obvious — ignorance — here, but the Getty location was chosen because it was the site of the Getty Villa. LIke many old houses, it made more sense to transform it into public space”
    Clueless, your name fits. The Getty VILLA museum is in Malibu, and was J. Paul’s residence, BUT, that is not where the MAIN Getty Museum campus that I was talking about. The Getty Museum is on a hill near the 405 and Sunset Boulevard and was built on virgin hills and canyons FAR away from public transportation and the L.A. population and cultural centers. Its location had nothing to do with the Malibu Villa and everything to do with keeping the art “safe” from urban “undesirables”.
    I happen to know a bit about some of the reasons for the site location of the Getty, and there was an excellent conference on the museum, and the politics behind it’s site selection at the University I was attending at the time (USC School of Architecture). The reasons for locating “The Getty” (the new big one, NOT the VILLA) had much to do with economic class, racial politics, and the powerful urban boundries that keep populations seperated. Try to find any Latino in East L.A. who has ever been to the Getty Center! But many of those same East L.A. residents have been to museums on Wilshire Blvd. or in downtown Los Angeles.
    Locating CAMP in the Presidio may be close to Fisher’s own house, but it is FAR away from transportation and the vast majority of the urban population.

  26. Posted by juju

    Neal Benezra, the director of SFMOMA, hailed the Fisher collection as “one of the most important in the world,” with an exceptional depth and breadth.” He said that because he wants Fisher to donate their stuff to SFMOMA. That’s what directors at major museums do. They kiss major donor’s ass. That’s their job. SFMOMA can never afford to buy all the paintings that Fisher collection holds. Of course he wants them to donate to SFMOMA. If you were Neal, wouldn’t you say “oh my god, Fisher Collection is he best in the world. They are such a great connoisseurs. Blah, blah, blah.”
    While I’m not entirely familiar with Fisher Collection, a quick search on the net, sfgate actually did a write up of their collection. “Early works by Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Agnes Martin.” While these are blue chip artists, I think they are missing quite a few others. Where are the de Koonings? Pollocks? Rauschenbergs? Jasper Johns? Rothkos? You can’t have a World Class collection and have these pillar names missing! What Fisher should do is donate their stuff to SFMOMA and let SFMOMA figure out how they are going to expand their museum (take out all those none blue chip paintings for one would help). Fisher Collection can fill a lot of gaps at SFMOMA.
    I can totally understand why Fisher’s architect wants to build something modern and flashy. But as a San Franciscan, I think an architect’s ego should be subservient to public’s interest especially at a public park (but not private residences where city routinely gave homeowners hard time). I don’t see the problem of either taking one of those big buildings and just remodel them to host Fisher’s collection or build another building that looks exactly like the ones that are already there. What’s so wrong about building a structure that looks exactly the same as the ones that are already there?
    Truthfully the Fisher collection should really be in SFMOMA where it truly belongs. However, I can totally see why Fisher wants their own museum. It just sounds so much better to tell your friends “I have my own museum” than “oh, you can see my name on quite a few painting description tags at SFMOMA.” Plus when you are dead, your name sake museum will live on whereas people will forget about you as time pass if you donate your stuff to SFMOMA.

  27. Posted by juju

    By the way, I don’t think Getty is at Brentwood so that the Latino’s can’t access to it. Cars are not exactly expensive these days. Most Latino’s have cars and they can haul their ass to Brentwood via 10 and 405. In fact, most Latinos live in the Valley. Brentwood can easily be accessed via 405. So I would call the argument of keeping out the Latinos from Getty Center quite weak. However, if you were to say to keep out the blacks from South Central, that would make more sense. Again though, most people in LA have cars regardless of race and they can access Getty by driving. If they are too poor to have cars, chances are they are working more than one jobs to get by and the last thing they want to do in their small amount of free time is let’s go see the “high arts”.

  28. Posted by What Don Fisher Wants

    Juju, you make perfect points, and the Fisher collection is indeed one slice of the larger modern art vocabulary. I also think the Fisher collection included within a larger Modern Art collection such as SFMoma would be fantastic, but Fisher has made some rather unusual demands in the past to SFMoma;
    1.) The collection must be kept entirely together, and not displayed within a larger art collection. (So if at SFMoma, it would need a completely seperate wing, and must always be entirely on display)
    2.) Only Fisher can make the decisions of how the paintings are hung, in what order, how they are illuminated, what the museum can “say” about each work or art, etc.
    3.)Fisher’s art can never be loaned to another institution, and can only stay together and completely on display.
    4.)No museum curators or directors will ever be able to make decisions now, or in the future, on how any art from the Fisher collection is restored or preserved.
    Basically, Fisher wants complete control, even after his death. These types of demands are quite extreme, and most donors are willing to “let go” when they give up their collection.
    I think Fisher should split up his collection amongst many institutions to help them fill holes in their collection. The Fisher art is mostly from one small period of time in Modern Art, and has a huge disproportionate share of Lichtensteins and Warhols.
    Don Fisher wants to take his art with him to the grave by controlling it forever, and by making sure everyone knows in the future that it all belongs to him because only his decisions will stand “fovever”.
    The LACMA currently has an exhibition called “Hearst the Collector” which shows how another person took the opposite approach with a much larger and more valuable collection of art. Hearst studied various American art museums collections and inserted his donated art where he thought it would contribute to various museums collections. Hearst did most of his donations anonymously. Hearst understood that he was going to die, and chose institutions that could show proper care and consideration for his donations, and was comfortable in “letting go”.

  29. Posted by amused_in_soma

    Jeff, don’t the MTA and the Big Blue Bus run buses to the Getty? Isn’t that public transportation? And keeping the museum free (you don’t even pay for parking if you take the bus!) is more of an inducement for poor people than location, IMHO. Have you seen the attendance numbers for MOCA? So much for a location convenient to (some) locals and out of the way for tourists.
    But that irrelevant for the CAMP, since is inconvenient for locals *and* tourists (except for those who rent a bike to go over the GG bridge or a car), and there aren’t plans for a big campus like the Getty Center (which is much, much more than a museum). The location is a bit of a shame, but I remain skeptical the collection is really impressive enough to warrant a museum of its own, so I doubt it’s really a loss for our cultural landscape (unless it slows down the Culture Bus and reduces ridership).
    Anyone know how Fisher’s collection compares to Eli Broad’s? There’s a new building at LACMA to house his collection, and I found it underwhelming. But it’s a great addition to an existing museum.

  30. Posted by Jeff

    Amused_in_soma and others…. I guess the short answer to your questions is “Yes”, one can get to the Presidio or the Getty without a car, but it is not easy, and it is not the point. The point was the politics involved in the selection of cultural sites, and many times poorer neigborhoods are not given the chance to be a part of the process. (See the book “Out of Site” by Diane Ghirardo that goes into detail about how the Getty Site was selected, and why they chose to isolate it on a hill instead of inserting it into the urban landscape)
    Why cannot we use the selection of cultural locations for museums as a way to stimulate neighborhoods that need help, instead of hiding the art in areas of town that dont need help. Does the Presidio “need” Camp?
    The Presidio is an amazing landscape with some historic structures that some may not like, but in fact tell a story of part of American History. The Parade is one of the last collections of early American Fort architecture left in the country, and there are other ways of “saving” the buildings. I happen to be a big fan of Cavallo Point.
    For those of us over 40, you cannot imagine how the SFMOMA helped to change Soma which was not only not a neighborhood, but not worth even driving through 20 years ago. The Fisher Museum could transform areas such as Mission Bay or Mid Market.

  31. Posted by Usually Named

    “Does the Presidio ‘need’ Camp?”
    Yes. The Presidio is to become self-sustaining by 2012. That means it must self-generate funds to keep it’s programs and maintenance going.
    For the naysayers — you all willing to put up the cash to not have CAMP there?

  32. Posted by anon94123

    http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R806100900
    This 7 month old KQED show is still a good source for why there is so much opposition.
    How would giving a prime large land parcel owned by the public FREE to Don Fisher help to generate funds for the Presidio? Could someone point me to any document showing where CAMP would share any proceeds from its operations? I would prefer a world class modern building near downtown to showcase this major art collection.

  33. Posted by Joshua

    So Jake says the Presidio is “supposed” to be a park? Are museums not allowed in parks? Then why is the de Young in Golden Gate Park?
    Another argument is that tourists, residents and the public cannot access the Presidio easily. Anyone who has EVER visited Crissy Field knows that plenty of visitors and residents alike visit the area every single week.
    Finally, the Disney Family Foundation is building their museum (in a park!) just a stone’s throw away. When this area become an even more popular destination with the combination of the Disney Museum, Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field and probably CAMP. In fact it already sounds much more interesting than the Yerba Buena/SFMOMA/Metreon conventioneers zone.
    (and one final thought, who wants to best that Lucas will finally create a small, open to the public space to show-off some of the Star Wars magic? anyone doubting me, please email, b/c i’d like to place a wager and then take your money!)

  34. Posted by anon94123

    Is there an anti-Northside bias with many people here?
    Since you all think those who have concerns are NIMBYs, would you be willing to build this museum in Dolores Park?
    The Presidio is not a “park”, as much as a historic landscape and monument. It already has a history and context, and many of us do use it almost daily. The Disney museum uses existing structures and is far smaller in scale than CAMP.
    Agreed that the Star Wars Museum cannot be far behind. Will every mega-mogul in the Bay Area want their museum tomb in the Presidio?

  35. Posted by Lyon

    I live on Lyon Street facing the Presidio. I’ve owned our home for 10 years. Everyone was really upset about the Lucas Center (including myself) and the crying about its impact on traffic and crowds was enourmous (once again, including myself).
    Let me say that I was wrong. The Lucas Center has been fantastic for the Presidio and our neighborhood. Our children, and many families on our streets children, play by the pond, etc. The park has 24 hour security, and the park is just pefect! Further, all that extra traffic that I screamed about at planning meeetings, well it never happened. I admit that I was wrong.
    I am totally in favor of the plan with or without the Fisher addition. The Trust did Lucas right, and I trust they will do the Parade project right as well. Lets just stop complaining and get on with it and the Doyle Street Project. It will only help everyone around to get this project going. The final result with the grass meadow, hotel (we need a better hotel on this side of town considering all those crapy hotels on Lombard), and a large gathering area for activities will be a boon for the entire north side of town.

  36. Posted by Joshua

    Interesting conversation. Remember the magic we all enjoy living in the Bay Area. Other cities would BEG for a major art museum, Disney museum, Lucas museum or other projects of similar caliber.
    We’re truly and deeply fortunate to face so many opportunities.
    Quit the bitching, create good design, respect your neighbors, and thank your lucky stars that you’re clever enough to eke out a living that allows you to enjoy living in such a wonderful area.
    Otherwise, I hear the median home price in Detroit is now $7,500. Perhaps that city could be your next “project”.

  37. Posted by UGH!

    What a choice! Let the Presidio become a museum park and “quite bitching”, OR move to Detroit.
    I guess this is part of the open minded “magic” of living in the Bay Area.
    I would be in favor of both a Cavallo Point type of re-use, and museums devoted to the nature and history of the Presidio and Bay area, but do not think this should become a courtyard of ego monuments that have nothing to do with the setting or history. Cavallo Point is making money and was able to save the old structures, repair landscapes, encourage more visitors, and introduce new structures without ruining the context.
    (Could it be that both the Disney daughter and Fisher prefer this location because it is about a 3 minute drive from their homes? Perhaps they do not care for the “magic” of SOMA or Market Street? And what exactly is Walt Disney’s connection with the Presidio or the Bay Area for that matter? Check out the plans online, the largest space is the “Disney Store”.)

  38. Posted by FormerAptBroker

    Jeff said:
    > I happen to know a bit about some of the
    > reasons for the site location of the Getty,
    > The reasons for locating “The Getty” (the
    > new big one, NOT the VILLA) had much to do
    > with economic class, racial politics, and
    > the powerful urban boundries that keep
    > populations seperated.
    I think that the Presidio site has more to do with the fact that Fisher and most of his friends and family live a few blocks away (in Presidio Heights) than an evil plan by a Republican to “keep brown people out of the museum”…
    > Try to find any Latino in East L.A.
    > who has ever been to the Getty Center!
    > But many of those same East L.A.
    > residents have been to museums on
    > Wilshire Blvd. or in downtown Los Angeles.
    Latinos (and poor whites) don’t go museums and wouldn’t go even if we put the museum at 16th and Mission (or in a Santa Rosa trailer park). Has anyons ever met Jose’ the gardener (or Hank the sheet metal guy) at a MOMA CX (or ArtPoint) event?

  39. Posted by resp

    does anyone opposed to this plan know how the public can take part in the process of fighting the approval?

  40. Posted by Dan

    First, it is ridiculous to say that Latinos don’t go to museums. California has many fine Latino artists, and many Latinos visit museums (including the Getty, when I was there).
    Second, I lived in LA when the Getty campus was being planned. The site was picked because of a desire for a large campus. At that time, there was much less talk about putting cultural amenities near transit. This is LA, after all. It is near the 405. The site picked was easily accessible by car from the Getty villa (via Sunset Boulevard), the Westside, and the San Fernando Valley. The Skirball Center was built nearby.
    Finally, re: CAMP. Fisher has had many battles with the the Board of Supervisors in recent years, and I’m sure wished to avoid dealing with them. He knew the Presidio Trust would be a friendlier place for his plans. I’d prefer a location in the city, but in truth, the added traffic with CAMP would be a small fraction of the commuter traffic that current goes through the Presidio. And many tourists already go there to see the Bridge. The greening of the Parade Grounds would be a real improvement over the current big parking lot. I’m looking forward to the refinement of the new museum proposal.

  41. Posted by PresidioPal

    Comments are interesting, Two BIG reasons Fisher’s museum does not belong. 1. No one builds contemporary art museums in historic national parks. There is no legal basis for it. (The Trust claims it runs a national park that is not obligated to follow the principles of all national parks.) 2. The 100,000 square foot museum is only part of the problem. Add 85,000 square feet of hotel nearby and a 18,000 square feet movie house and cram them all in the heart of a 230 year old National Historic Landmark. San Francisco is placing the Landmark and national park designations at risk and could lose the entire Presidio after a change of power in Congress, when Pelosi no longer can protect it, if these projects are built. Check http://www.presidioassociation.org

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