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James Corner to Design New Presidio Landscape Over Parkway

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James Corner Field Operations, the landscape architect perhaps best known for the High Line in New York, has been selected to design the Presidio Parklands, the Presidio Trust said in an announcement today. Corner's firm beat out four other contenders—including Snøhetta, CMG Landscape Architecture, West 8, and Olin—in an ideas competition focusing on the 13 acres of land that will be created by sending auto traffic from the old Doyle Drive through a new tunnel, the Presidio Parkway. As you recall, the firms' designs were not final submissions to be voted up or down, but the starting points in a public conversation about what should be built on public land. Now that Corner's firm has been selected, design work will begin in earnest next year. They will partner with EHDD (which had been on the team with CMG) on the design.


The new landscape—whose design will be overseen by a partnership of the trust, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Parks Service—will connect the Presidio's main post with Crissy Field. With a hefty grade change from the main post down to Crissy Field, it's a tricky site to unify into a coherent experience, and all five teams faced the challenge of working with with a yet-to-be-finished canvas (Doyle Drive's transformation into the partly underground Presidio Parkway is still very much under way).

Presidio Trust executive director Craig Middleton told the Chronicle that Field Operations was the unanimous choice. And John King cited the firm's experience navigating relationships with neighborhood groups and bureaucracies—an important skill for such a public site, as George Lucas may or may not have learned.

Field Operations' preliminary design solves the grade change with an elegant ellipse, which forms a bluff up top and an amphitheater down below. The public will have input on the final design; public workshops are slated to begin in late January. If all goes according to plan, the new parklands will open in 2018.

· High Line Archives [Curbed NY]
· Presidio park project lands architect behind High Line in NY [SFGate]
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· Harsh Trib Editorial: 'Lucas Museum Shouldn't Be On Lakefront' [Curbed Chicago]
· Starchitects Vie to Design Presidio Plot That Doesn't Exist Yet [Curbed SF]
· On Rebound from Lucas Fracas, Presidio Tries a New Approach [Curbed SF]