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Palace of Fine Arts Future Home of San Francisco Museum

"Fireless fireworks" and a "tower of innovation" will replace initial hotel plan

It looks like you won’t be booking a room at the Palace of Fine Arts in the future, as both of the proposed hotel projects that might once have occupied the historic building appear to have dropped out in the face of public disgruntlement.

That leaves only one contender, the proposed San Francisco Museum at the Palace, a $70 million project that, if approved by San Francisco Park & Recreation, would erect a 43,000-square-foot museum about San Francisco history, along with a 42,000-square-foot Great Hall where people could peddle local wares, and a 5,000-square-foot restaurant.

Note that only the hall portion would involve the iconic rotunda.

The city solicited the proposals because the building needs $20 million worth of preservation and seismic upgrades. Two of the three finalists last November included hotel space in their layout, but tens of thousands of people publicly blanched at the idea that a city landmark might be handed over to hoteliers for purely commercial purposes.

Now it looks as if the museum proposal may have won by default, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports that only the museum group made the follow-up deadline.

The museum would chronicle San Francisco history with an eye toward technology, including a "Tower of Innovation" detailing the city’s great inventors and such intriguing (if a little confusing) concepts as "fireless fireworks."

Museum at the Palace promises to bring the building up to snuff, and does propose a few significant structural changes, including installing solar panels on the roof and creating a viewing gallery of the city skyline by knocking out some interior walls (which, according to preservation architects, are not technically historic).

The museum has retained Jay Turnbull as their preservation consultant, who previously worked on the Ferry Building. Although it's the last proposal standing, the city doesn't have to approve the museum. Park & Rec could take a pass, and possibly solicit different proposals for the site with other parties in the future

Palace of Fine Arts

3301 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123