(Simon Tunbridge/Flickr)

There are now three finalists for creating a cultural institution on one of the most beautiful stretches of parkland in the country, at mid-Crissy Field in the Presidio. Which do you favor? A museum devoted to “Star Wars” creator George Lucas’ art collection? An institute focused on sustainability and exploring the social, environmental and economic issues of our time? Or a cultural center with constantly changing programming including the history of the Presidio? We talk with a representative from each proposal pitching their plan.

Guests:
David Perry, spokesperson for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum
Jeff Warner, architect and founding partner with WRNS Studio
Greg Moore, president and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
John King, urban design critic, San Francisco Chronicle

  • Alec

    How about none of the above? The Exploratorium ought to be already handling the sustainability issue. The Presidio’s history need not be an excuse for erecting a building and breaking the field into effectively two areas. And Star Wars? No way. All commercialism must be rejected. Maybe one thing the city could do, if they’re anxious to build something, is to install a big, modern windmill to complement the one in GG park. The city could use the electricity to power the lights on the GG bridge.

    • Bob Fry

      Hear, hear! How about doing nothing?! Why does every square foot of just land have to be “developed”?

      • Bay Area resident

        The Presidio was a development… put in in about 1776. The idea is that they are enhancing a historical development.

      • Yibbles

        Because that’s how the cronies of the Bay Area wealthy types expand their income and their self-delusions of grandeur 🙂

  • John

    Please, we don’t need “development” here. Leave it as it is, or convert the Sports Basement to more wetlands.

    • Bay Area resident

      Presidio=development

      • Yibbles

        Development = rápe of land

        • Bay Area resident

          It’s a building and parking lot at the moment and there have been buildings and humans on this site since 1776. I’d bet you are in a building right now and you’re a human. As a human myself I’ve noticed that buildings can be good- much more comfortable than caves.

    • leo holzer

      Lucas will put the museum’s parking area under the building and actually return more area to nature than what is currently at the site.

  • Jane

    I’m excited about the idea of a Sustainability Institute on Crissy Field that could also be respectful of the wetlands. The most critical issue of our day is environmental sustainability – climate change. A Sustainability Institute would be a bold statement about helping to shape the future rather than just honor the past.

  • Mark BĂĽnger

    Are you people INSANE? Do not move Sports Basement, even up the hill to the Presidio! SB is as much a part of the community as any art center. The free programs (CPR, yoga, bike maintenance…) and community support for local schools and charities IS culture, not to mention plain old outdoor sports. Fine arts is not the only culture in San Francisco, and we have more than enough history, nature and art museums all around Crissy Field. We don’t need more. Please please please keep Sports Basement where it is!

    • Yibbles

      I find SB to be a confusing store. I like the layout of REI much better, even if REI is a crappy corporate store staffed by snobs.

  • Bay Area resident

    Lucas museum please. There is beautiful power and popularity in a museum with a defined vision and art that can educate the public differently upon every visit. My family and friends love the Bay Area Discovery Museum, The Exploratorium, The Disney Family, The Charles Schulz museum, The Academy of Science, DeYoung, and The MoMA because they are defined in a way that gives people a bit of context and control of the vast amount of things we need to learn within our lifetimes. In contrast I believe the Exchange is too open ended and would serve only a very small and tuned in part of the SF population who might manage to make it on time for a rotating schedule.

    As a parent, human, and former child- like many others, I know the value of imagination and the real hope that storytelling gives us. I believe the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum will reach out to the part of ourselves that can see beyond reality.

    The Presidio was a fortress built to protect our American dreams. In 50 years time we will not regret The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum because it will have become a world famous bow to creativity and the Presidio will be there to protect what we know is most dear- our American heritage of storytellers and dreamers.

    • Bob Fry

      Surely a Lucas museum is more appropriate in Marin County, not SF.

      • Bay Area resident

        You’ll be able to see Marin.

      • leo holzer

        Why? The Letterman Digital Arts Center, built with George Lucas’ money, is in the Presidio and contributes a great deal to preservation efforts throughout the base.

    • F.j. Bear Left Knab

      Another tribute to an already far too swollen ego? As dumb an idea as most of his movies.

  • J.r. Vazquez

    Since its opening, the Exploratorium has seen lower than expected visitors, and does not need a competitive project. Sustainability is a subject covered all over the Bay Area. The Lucas Arts Museum truly puts up the cash to avoid additional public funds which are harder to come by. And isnt the space sufficient for one or more of these ideas to share space?

  • sean MOXY

    I don’t see why we need any of these in the city. Isn’t crissy field supposed to be about open space? When the sports authority leaves, just plant a community garden in its place and be done with it.

    • Bay Area resident

      Community garden= about 15 people guarding their tomatoes.

      • sean MOXY

        The point was, that no development could be the best option of all.

        • Bay Area resident

          It already is a development. They are going to taking away the huge parking lot there now-trees and beauty will return.

  • Nina

    Why isn’t District 2 Supervisor Mark Ferrell on the air with you? What stakeholder has the final say in this process?

  • Jerome christensen

    All three guests have been discussing the program of the buildings extensively but the clear difference which won’t allow anyone to agree is aesthetics. The site is challenging to build on in a sensitive way but Lucas’ proposal is stuck in the past and site inappropriate

    • leo holzer

      the design for the LCAM fits in quite nicely with the historic buildings along the Presidio’s Parade Grounds as well as The Palace of Fine Arts. It’s far better than the uninspired big boxes and outdoor parking areas the two other proposals have included.

  • Ward Schumaker

    Architecture-wise, the Lucas’ proposal is a dismal and horrific disgrace! It must be stopped!

  • zak

    A quote to share: “Henceforth, the measure of all human institutions, professions and activities will be the extent to which they inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.” – Thomas Berry. -In my opinion, the choice is clear. An emphasis on sustainability is the most essential to society. 100 yrs from now, Crissy Field itself may be under saltwater. When we look back, I believe that planetary stewardship will prove itself the most important endeavor of this century. I prefer a proposal that directly addresses the ecological realities of our planet.

    • Bay Area resident

      Stewardship is also being respectful of humanity on this planet. Our children need to be given hope that they are part of the future- not it’s problem. The Lucas Cultural Art Museum plans maintain a careful human- Earth relationship for this site. Denying a bow to our human creativity in a site that is surrounded by the open space of the Headlands is being defeatist to ourselves. It is saying- we should not exist-but the truth is we obviously we do exist so we are an important part of being the stewards of this planet and our ability to create is our uniqueness.

  • Dave

    The least appealing as both an architectural statement or as a public amenity is the Lucas proposal. Both the other schemes are highly open & interactive. They each pick up on the idea of a living room for the community and provide a multitude of common uses in a good & accessible way. They flow nicely with the overall site dynamics and clearly provide a showcase of and for the park. By contrast, the Lucas proposal is closed, intrusive, and stodgy.
    I know Lucas is a good steward for the Presidio’s efforts, but this is truly a unique public space and deserves more. Yes, he has deep pockets, but we have helped fund the original park improvements in the past…and would be happy to contribute again to make this project a success and keep it open and inviting to all.

    • Bay Area resident

      Once the entire community has sat on the couch and you are there wondering where all the pieces have gone to the tiger puzzle- I bet you’ll will wish the Lucas Cultural Arts Center was there.

  • Bob

    Nix the WRNS Studio proposal since what is cutting edge today for building green will be passé in the near future. There was no talk of budget sustainability so the taxpayers will be funding this project for years to come.

    I applaud the park system and love open green spaces. Why can’t Greg Moore work with Lucas to preserve a majority of the space but allow the Lucas project to move forward? In addition, getting
    people to recreate outdoors is a wonderful contribution provided by the Sports Basement so the city would be remiss if the Basement was forced out or to an isolated location.

    The Lucas proposal brings an everlasting billion-dollar art collection, revolving exhibits and a program that guarantees non-dated educational learning. In addition, $300-$400 million for
    construction and $300-$400 endowment so the project costs the city zero, is very compelling. I would encourage the commission to move forward with Lucas with the following mandates:
    1) Give the Sport Basement a prominent location near
    the water’s edge to continue encouragement of recreation.
    2) Place the Lucas project as far away from the water’s edge to allow the continuation and expansion of outdoor recreation.
    3) Work with Greg Moore to promote as much open space as possible so people can continue to enjoy the great outdoors.

    In summary, I encourage the commission to force Lucas, Moore, and Sport’s Basement to work together for compromise and a better proposal than either has currently proposed.

  • National Parks for People

    National parks are places you go to let go of your ego. To step outside of yourself and get into contact with The Land. We don’t need a monument to one of our countries’ biggest egos fogging the view of our Bay further. We already gave Lucas his office park with security guard patrols, pesticides and a river you can turn off. That is ego monument enough and right down the street from Walt Disney’s too.

    Having a lot of money maybe a ticket to do anything in the private sector; but it shouldn’t mean we all bend over and let our national parks become a storage space for anyone’s personal taste in art. You can put an art museum anywhere and surely the great museums that already exist like the SFMOMA will welcome his money and his collections. Unlike the other two proposals, his art has nothing to do with Crissy Field, the bay or the park.

    Hats off to Larry for just buying a boat and sailing it around the bay. His ego (and legacy) will have far less of a long term impact and for that we should suggest George stops pretending that he’s anything more than a guy who made some money making movies and plastic toys in China. Stop trying to fool everyone into thinking you personally deserve some kind of monument to yourself too.

    This moment’s contribution to ‘the Best Idea America has ever had’ should be better than big money milking international teams of imaginative people to inflate one man’s self esteem. No thanks. George, we gave you money, can you just leave our national park alone now? Make some movies or buy a boat or something instead of spray painting your tag all over the Presidio. If you want to know who money can buy – just look at who supports Lucas’ plan and you got your list of class A phoneys.

    • Bay Area resident

      Nobody’s a phony and a National Park can be whatever the people want it to be. It’s our park.

  • Richard

    Style aside, and I assure Lucas has none, the National Parks were founded on the idea that we should preserve and respect our most precious natural resources for future generations to enjoy and learn from…this would not be possible without “sustainability”. The Bridge proposal celebrates and enriches this idea by providing an outlet for didactic conversations about what sustainability means to our society and how we should move forward without leaving a path of destruction behind us.

  • Mark Metzler

    If you have too, leave a cultural center with constantly changing programming including the history of the Presidio. HOWEVER, why not convert the land into a grassy area with trees, a place to relax and enjoy the sites and scenes!

  • Rich W

    If there has to be a building here, I’d prefer to see a museum for
    natural history and landscape art, similar to the National Wildlife Art
    Museum at Jackson Hole, WY or the Kolb Bros. Studio gallery at Grand Canyon. (My knowledge of other, similar museums is limited.) There is the Oakland Museum, of course, but it doesn’t have nearly the resources that a National Park museum would. As far as I know, too, an art museum would compliment and not duplicate the Academy of Science exhibits. I also think there’s a wider audience for this theme than any of the other ideas. I’m sure there are plenty of private donors who would help fund it.

  • F.j. Bear Left Knab

    Cultural center highlighting the connections to the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition and more. Lucas can eat a frog.

  • Alan Kita

    Although I am a big fan of the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, I think it should be near where the Walt Disney Family Museum – to create a creative complex. My vote is for the Bridge/Sustainability Institute proposal.

    • leo holzer

      There’s been a Sustainability Institute on the grounds of The Presidio since 1995 — The Thoreau Center for Sustainability.

    • leo holzer

      The Sports Basement site and the Walt Disney Family Museum will be within walking distance once the second set of tunnels are erected over 101. This will allow direct pedestrian and bicyclist access from Crissy Field to the Main Parade Grounds.

  • leo holzer

    What the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum proposal has behind it is capital. Building anything worthy of such a glorious piece of real estate as the site near The Presidio’s Crissy Field will be costly.

    The $1.1 billion total Lucas has pledged in three separate installments will guarantee the museum’s long-term viability as well as provide a strong financial foundation so that the project will not need a bailout from public funds;

    The Bridge project duplicates work already being done on Presidio grounds by the Thoreau Center for Sustainability. Backers of the Bridge project should look to work on improving the Thoreau Center’s visibility with funding and additional programming.

    The Presidio Exchange proposal is favored by some neighbors and The Parks Conservancy does have a good track record of raising money, especially from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. Still, I’m left to wonder if the two-step Presidio Exchange building proposal is one way to delay looking at the capital required to develop this very special site and when Phase 2 construction might be complete. I’m also left to wonder if this simply isn’t the NIMBY reaction by nearby residents afraid that Lucas’ museum will have an international draw;

    And, the building design for both these proposals also seem a bit uninspired compared to renderings for Lucas’ museum, which honor the area’s architecture and history.

    Outside of the budgeting aspects, one of the biggest reasons I prefer the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum plan is the synergistic opportunities it creates not only for The Walt Disney Family Museum, but for the San Francisco Film Centre and the whole history of San Francisco storytelling … from the Native Americans’ oral traditions to the first wave of silent film makers; from Phil Farnsworth and the development of TV to the birth of digital film arts and the rise of ILM, Pixar and Pacific Data Images/DreamWorks.

    The Lucas proposal honors a history of San Francisco as it celebrates several generations of popular art and inspires young and old alike. It will be a local, regional, state and international draw and has a very good chance of becoming George Lucas’ most enduring cultural legacies.

    If the Presidio Trust rejects Lucas — a native Californian with strong Bay Area ties — and drives him to another out-of-state city like Chicago, it will be a tragedy of historic proportions.

  • leo holzer

    In July 1988, a little more than 25 years ago, the Marin County Fair invited George Lucas to exhibit “The Magic of Lucasfilm.” It featured creatures, costumes, a Tucker automobile, miniatures, props and memorabilia from George Lucas’ films, including Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    The five-day exhibit drew a record crowd of 130,000 with international visitors and national media coverage. I still remember the long lines but happy visitors.

    Now add to the movie memorabilia, the art George Lucas has collected over the years, including paintings by Norman Rockwell, Matthew Parrish, even some works by Disney comic book artist Carl Barks.

    Can you even grasp the idea that this grand museum will have enough assets that it could completely swap out all exhibits every six months for nine years?

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor