September 16, 2013
Final Proposals For Presidio Development Due By Five PM Today
With three teams having made the Presidio Trust's cut, final proposals for redeveloping the former Commissary and current Sports Basement site across from Crissy Field are due by 5pm today.
From the New York Times with respect to George Lucas' proposed Cultural Arts Museum, one of the three finalists which comes with a pledge of $700 million of Lucas' own money to fund and endow the museum and has been endorsed by Mayor Ed Lee:
In an interview, Mr. Lucas said that the Presidio staff and board had "stalled" for four years on the project and snubbed his taste in architecture as an exercise in mere "mimicking." Should San Francisco reject his latest proposal, Mr. Lucas is threatening to build his pop-culture palace in Chicago.
Mr. Lucas said that Nancy H. Bechtle, chairwoman of the Presidio board, criticized his idea for a building that recycled a historical style rather than pioneered a new one. His proposal calls for a conservative Beaux-Arts building topped by a dome and takes its inspiration from the fairgrounds of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco in 1915.
"There’s nothing wrong with replicating old architecture," Mr. Lucas said. "Basically all of Washington is a mimic of the past." We'll keep posted as to what the future holds.
∙ Lucas Cultural Arts Museum And Two Others Make The Presidio's Cut [SocketSite]
∙ 3 Vie to Build Culture Center at Presidio in San Francisco [NYTimes]
∙ George Lucas' Cultural Arts Museum Proposal And Personal Thoughts [SocketSite]
First Published: September 16, 2013 10:45 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
I definitely do not support the FAKE historical building proposed by Lucas. This seems completely in opposite of reflecting a future and being forward thinking.
This is certainly not "recycling" a historical style, but simply copying it.
Posted by: Futurist at September 16, 2013 11:05 AM
It's a beautiful building. Go ahead and reject $700 million. Some day SF will suffer from running off people like Lucas.
Posted by: MoneyMan at September 16, 2013 11:10 AM
All proposals are a complete waste, redundant and derivative. If we must have something -- then a hostel for youth (not the skanky SOMA hostels), something for seniors, or for our vets. Just say no to all this repetitiveness -- if these proposed projects need a presence (they don't) use existing Presidio structures or a phenomenal building in the Tenderloin and make a civic and indelible difference.
Posted by: Invented at September 16, 2013 11:10 AM
The Lucas plan seems the most well-thought-out, compelling, and financially viable of the choices; all irrelevant topics such as hostels or senior housing aside....
Posted by: Drew at September 16, 2013 11:29 AM
Hear my prayer, stop the madness that is San Francisco smug....
Posted by: SF SMUG at September 16, 2013 11:34 AM
Hard to see the Lucas proposal going through with so much bad-mouthing going on. Still, it's obviously the most financially viable of the lot. And speaking as a Parks Conservancy member, I'm concerned that if they win this it will drain financial resources from their primary mission of restoring and maintaining the parks.
Posted by: zzzzzz at September 16, 2013 11:38 AM
Lucas proposal is best all around, including the building. Hands down. We are crazy if we let Chicago get this civic asset.
Posted by: Mike at September 16, 2013 12:52 PM
So basically he wants to get an architect from Naboo . . . .
Posted by: BTinSF at September 16, 2013 12:52 PM
The Times article did a great job of skewering Lucas, without making the obvious comparisons to Larry Ellison and Willy Brown. Especially great were his comments about modern art, which demonstrate a lack of understanding of subtle and multilayered visual representation.
For someone who lives in San Anselmo (which now boasts a laughable Yoda fountain) and spends half his time in Chicago, one questions whether his true motivation is anything other than upstaging Walt Disney, whose museum quite literally overshadows this site.
Posted by: tj at September 16, 2013 12:52 PM
Good grief. Traditional western architecture is beautiful and the few remaining folks with the wherewithal to put it up should be welcomed. Its only 'fake' when its deliberately or ignorantly degraded -- ie randomly detailed stucco columns and plastic strips in windows instead of muntins. Its easy to get wong, especially now that its been gone from most architecture schools for 50 years now. Done right its still a crown pleaser. Does every single new building in a prominent site need to look like a car crash?
Posted by: Around1905 at September 16, 2013 1:20 PM
Whatever it takes. George, baby, stay in SF.
We love you and the Force. Forget those naysayers with their tiny vision of the future and their moment of power.
Posted by: james jr at September 16, 2013 1:40 PM
What Around1905 said.
If it's mimicking, or copying, or whatever you want to call it, so what? So was the Legion of Honor. So was City Hall. Yet somehow they manage to continue to be appreciated.
Posted by: Alai at September 16, 2013 1:53 PM
1905, you make an interesting point. "Fake" shouldn't be an insult meaning "out of fashion." In fact the distinction between "authentic" and "derivative" is somewhat a dead argument. We could say that the Palace of Fine Arts is "fake Roman" but it's a genuine example of early 20th century World's Fair vernacular. Same with Washington DC's NEO-classical, as Lucas said. The assumptions of structural expressionism or the current high-tech baroque aren't the only legitimate way to do architecture.
Posted by: James at September 16, 2013 2:02 PM
I certainly would like to see Lucas as the overall winner in this competition, but I do wish the proposed architectural solutions were more reflecting 2013, than 1915.
I have met him before in person, at his home, and at Skywalker Ranch and he does prefer architecture steeped in the past. The entire ranch and sound studios are beautifully crafted and all are built on design themes of historical styles, such as Craftsman, Art Deco, Victorian and others. He fully respects expert craftsman ship and has the budget to build quality projects.
He's often said he is/was a frustrated architect. Just look at the incredible sets and architectural fantasies in all of his films.
Just think of what he could do with the best architects and budgets in producing a contemporary/modern building to be in step with 2013.
Posted by: Futurist at September 16, 2013 2:07 PM
Why is Lucas trying so hard to influence the exterior of the building? He should be most concerned with what goes inside of the completed project.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at September 16, 2013 2:38 PM
Lucas has probably discovered that although a much large city with much better architecture, Chicago is 10 times easier to get a major structure built in, than San Francisco. What is interesting is how supportive and open minded the Chicago community is towards change and growth. What surprised me as an architect was how helpful and supportive chicago governmental agencies were towards our projects there. The planning department of Chicago seems to feel their job is to help buildings get built instead of stopping them, and they could care less how many underground parking spaces are built in a basement as long as bike parking and attractive outdoor pedestrian spaces are provided as well.
Posted by: Arch at September 16, 2013 3:25 PM
He's willing to put $700 million of his own money for something that benefits all of SF. He can determine what he wants it to look like, as far as I'm concerned. It's not as if he's trying to make it into a replica of the Millenium Falcon.
So what if it's not the most avant-garde architecture, it still looks good enough.
Posted by: lyqwyd at September 16, 2013 3:25 PM
I agree completely with Arch: yes, Chicago is a much more open minded city than we are, yes they have a lot of great modern and older architecture.
But here, we have the nimby's out of control, along with factions upon factions of special interest groups (like the anti-car, pro bike people) who have huge amounts of power in our city government. I don't like it, but that's our culture.
And yes, I still support the Lucas proposal, and certainly his money should allow him a great deal of choice and influence over the style of the building.
Actually, I think a building designed in the spirit of the Millenium Falcon would be an amazing piece of architecture.
Posted by: Futurist at September 16, 2013 3:41 PM
So, Don Fisher gets shot down for a museum that was too modern. (I agreed with that.) And now Lucas gets shot down for being too conservative. I guess you can't win.
My choice would be for something that "mimics" the Presidio architecture rather than the Palace of Fine Arts.
As for the other designs, is this the location for another DeYoung-type building? I don't think so.
Posted by: jlasf at September 16, 2013 6:20 PM
The DeYoung type building, as you call it, is probably the Second or third BEST new, modern building in all of San Francisco.
My first choice is the Federal Building by Morphosis.
Posted by: Futurist at September 16, 2013 6:24 PM
Well said, lyqwyd, well said.
Posted by: SFRealist at September 16, 2013 6:42 PM
Now, of course the Presidio board isn't the S.F. Planning Department or the Planning Commission.
But this is the same kind of situation and mindset (on the opposition side) I was talking about back in March when I wrote:
…I'd just like to note, when someone who doesn't like modernism proposes a project in a more traditional style, the exact same process…takes place so that the applicant has to re-work their project to meet the "design style, color, details, etc." of the planning commission member(s), but in this case, it's in a manner you would approve of.
In this case, the people who are adhering to the current architectural orthodoxy and forcing their aesthetic preferences on a project proponent are the members of the the Presidio board and not the planning commission.
Who's to decide what constitutes pioneering a new style? Who's saying that a Beaux-Arts building is "conservative"? The people who oppose it?
lyqwyd has it right, if he's willing to pony up the money and pay the rent on the land that The Presidio wants, he should get to see what he wants built, in the style he prefers.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 17, 2013 11:00 AM
Posted by: SocketSite at September 17, 2013 12:59 PM
I like the Lucas proposal. The other proposals have no funding, will not interest anyone outside of the people with a vested interest in the projects, and will drain resources better spent on other projects (because they don't have funding, will not generate enough funding to pay for themselves, and will need regular injections of money from somewhere just to keep the doors open). The complaint about the architecture of the building is merely a way to reject the best proposal and put something stupid in its place.
Posted by: presidio resident at September 19, 2013 2:55 PM
I think the Naboo building is appropriate. Its style is not too different from some of the most monumental structures in the Presidio.
Personally, I would have gone towards a Gattaca reference. Just to give the Marin Co. folks a familar sight.
Posted by: lol at September 19, 2013 4:14 PM