Snøhetta’s design for San Francisco’s new Presidio Parklands

Today, the Presidio Trust, National Park System and Golden Gate Parks Conservancy have invited five internationally-renowned teams to present their design ideas for 13 acres of new parkland in the Presidio.

The site will be created by the replacement of the elevated highway (Doyle Drive) with the Presidio Parkway and tunnel top parklands. Snøhetta, as one of the shortlisted design teams, participated in community and stakeholder workshops in early May, and has subsequently developed design and programming concepts for the new parklands.

Snøhetta’s concept for the New Presidio Parklands seeks to connect and orient visitors to the site within the larger territory of the Bay by embracing the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, the North and East Bays, and the spectacular landscapes of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Two fundamental experiences, presiding and engaging, shape Snøhetta’s approach for the New Presidio Parklands. The Urban National Park is envisioned as a place where Snøhetta’s design for San Francisco’s new Presidio Parklands visitors will be captivated by the scenic wonder of the urban setting as it meets the expanse of the Pacific Ocean while immersing them in tactile spaces that foster an intimate appreciation of nature.

The design framework for the parklands arises from a network of arcs and strands drawn from the sinuous terrain of the coastline and the layout of the historic Military Post. Snøhetta explores the inherent tension between the natural and cultural landscapes and creates opportunities for these forces to become legible over time, creating new experiences for visitors and inhabitants alike.

Within this framework, Crissy Marsh is extended across Mason Street into the new parklands to create an expanded tidal ecosystem, a wastewater management strategy, and a dynamic learning landscape for the Crissy Field Education Center. New building program is carefully integrated within the landforms of the parklands. A new Visitor’s Center, an addition to the Crissy Field Center and a future cultural facility are carved into the slope as a series of terraced arcs, forming dramatic new overlooks, windbreaks, and social gathering spaces while serving to reframe views into the historic post and out to the bay. Collaboration with the diverse communities of the Bay Area will be a critical step in imagining the programming for the new parklands. In anticipation of this next stage of the design process, a range of larger and smaller spaces are proposed, setting the stage for future planning. Each aspect of the design recognizes the extreme variations in climate and atmosphere that occur at the Presidio and in the Bay Area. In Snøhetta’s design, environmental conditions are managed and also celebrated as integral to the unique character of the site. Similarly, social conditions can vary from the quiet and introspective to the vibrant and communal. The proposal capitalizes on these dynamic qualities to create opportunities for a range of seasonal events and everyday rituals.

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