New James Corner Park For San Francisco

December 16, 2014

Presidio 1

San Francisco has chosen James Corner Field Operations to design a new park along the waterfront between the city’s Marina District and the entrance to the former Army base known as The Presidio. It is one of the most scenic locations in all of the United States, overlooking San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Corner is best known for designing High Line park on New York City’s West Side. Once an elevated rail line for freight trains, it is now an urban walking trail festooned with flowers and other greenery that offers a magnificent view of the Hudson River. The new Presidio Point park will reverse that process by burying a portion of the highway leading from downtown to the Golden Gate Bridge and placing the park on top of it.

Craig Middleton, executive director of the Presidio Trust which sponsored the design competiiton for the new park, told SF Gate after the announcement, “James shows an approach to the public arena that really is essential. We don’t feel we need to create an icon. This should be a place that celebrates the icons all around us.”

Field Operations has won high-profile commissions in Philadelphia, Seattle and Chicago recently. All of its designs are expressive and Corner says he has a similar goal for the San Francisco project.

“My concern is that we don’t underacheive. The challenge moving forward is to realize the full potential of the site — without a big show, without some spaceship-like design, but also not something that’s bland and uninteresting.

“A lot of our projects are public projects, with a lot of stakeholders,” he says, “and this one no doubt will have its own complications. We’re not conservative or hesitant in floating ideas. The ones that people are the most positive and enthusiastic about are the ones that go forward.”

The design process will involve a variety of local stakeholders and continue throughout 2015. Corner says the work going forward will be based on six organizing principles: to preserve and open views; to connect and extend; to showcase history; to enhance ecology; to invite play and learning; and to activate events and culture. Flexible and non-programmed spaces make up most of the park.

The new 13 acre Presidio Point park is scheduled to open in 2018.


James Corner Park Concept Art

Source | Photos: James Corner Field Operations, via Inhabitat.



Stephen Hanley

lives in Rhode Island and writes about topics at the convergence of technology and ecology. You can follow him on Google + and Twitter.