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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio, San Francisco, United States

Gap founder abandons plans for Presidio museum
After two failed designs and overwhelming public opposition, Donald Fisher, founder of the Gap, has pulled the plug on plans to build a new Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio (CAMP), a military base turned national park located in San Francisco, California. Fisher spokesperson, Alex Tourk, would not say why his client walked away from the proposal. But he did say Fisher is considering building a museum elsewhere to house his art collection, which is considered to be among the most extensive private collections of 20th and 21st Century art in the world.

Fisher first unveiled plans for a new two-storey contemporary museum designed by Richard Gluckman in 2007. But when that design was deemed too modern for the historic site, Fisher dumped Gluckman and turned to local architect WRNS Studio to design a more toned down structure. While that design, which puts the building partially underground, responded to the criticism of Gluckman’s design being 'too monumental', it failed to address the main source of contention: the project’s location. In the end, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which oversees heritage projects in the US, deemed the project inappropriate for the site.

“Don Fisher’s decision to abandon the Main Post site for his proposed contemporary art museum is the correct one”, said Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We believed from the beginning that having the museum built on the Presidio’s grounds could be a great asset to the community but, despite recent efforts to mitigate the impact of the structure on the Main Parade, that specific location has always been problematic to say the least”. The Main Parade is the most significant part not only of a National Historic Landmark but one of the most significant historic sites in America. To compromise its integrity would be tragic.”

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent
architecture NOW

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