Last year Fort Mason Center's Pier 2 hunkered down for a substantial $21 million renovation, and it officially reopens today. The center's Herbst Pavilion and Cowell Theater got some much-needed restoration and upgrades, carried out by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, including repairs to damaged concrete on the interior and exterior, some new storefront windows where roll-up doors used to be, a rooftop solar array, and radiant heating, along with the all-important ADA and seismic updates. And for the theater lobby, blacksmith and sculptor Daniel Hopper fashioned a twisty new chandelier that looks like a spiraling tangle of vines.
The oldest structure on the Fort Mason Center campus, Pier 2 was up and running in 1911 to aid the construction of the western portion of the Panama Canal. During World War II the pier sent cargo and ships off to the Pacific. In the 1960s it was decommissioned, and was reborn as a cultural center in 1977. This year's renovation is the most substantial since 2006, when the National Park Service oversaw a $13 million upgrade of the pier's substructure. This latest round of improvements also brings more bathrooms, which should prove a relief for everyone who spent the last hour trapped in the car, circling for parking.