Crissy Field Center's "Green" Interim Modulars Showcase Sustainability for Students and Park Visitors

December 9, 2009


SAN FRANCISCO, CA: With the infusion of federal stimulus funds through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, one of the Bay Area’s largest and most anticipated public works projects—the reconstruction of the Doyle Drive/Presidio Parkway approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, originally scheduled to begin in 2011—was put on the fast track to break ground in summer 2009.

The Crissy Field Center, an award-winning environmental education center—operated in partnership by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the National Park Service (NPS), and the Presidio Trust—serves nearly 20,000 youth annually both onsite and in the community and sits almost directly beneath Doyle Drive. Staff worked diligently to find a new location for its classrooms, labs, and visitor amenities within six months. What at first seemed a daunting challenge has become a golden “green” opportunity. One of the nation’s greenest park-based buildings promises to be an outstanding model of sustainability for students and park visitors alike. The Center will move from its current home at 603 Mason Street to the new location and host a public re-opening celebration on February 6, 2010.
By reaching out to ethnically and economically diverse populations in San Francisco, the Center strives to make the parks relevant to young people by addressing social, environmental, and economic issues facing their communities. “The new Center was designed for young people and our programs provide access, opportunity, and leadership training so participants can compete for white collar jobs in the new green economy,” said Christy Rocca, director of Crissy Field Center. “Many of the youth we serve have never been to a national park, even though they live just a few miles away. Some live in neighborhoods where asthma rates are double the national average, so the benefits of the clean energy solutions that we will be demonstrating have a direct impact on their quality of life.”

“We have a unique opportunity to integrate innovative technologies into our curriculum and actively engage kids,” Rocca added. “Whether it’s assisting in the renewable energy data collection, offering workshops on sustainable development, or leading public site tours, the Center provides a ladder of learning where youth can gain valuable skills that translate into career opportunities within the park and in our nation’s fledgling green economy.”

The new 7,200 square foot interim home for the Crissy Field Center—at the easternmost end of East Beach on Crissy Field—was created through a fast acting, multi-agency partnership involving the NPS, Parks Conservancy, Project FROG (Flexible Response to Ongoing Growth), and Caltrans, with support from the Presidio Trust. The high-performance modular facility, currently on track for LEED Gold certification, will serve not only as a hub of sustainability programming in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but also as a convening spot and resource for local community organizations, visiting diplomats, politicians, and educational leaders on both national and international fronts.

“Sustainability is a key element in the park’s strategy for serving visitors and it was critical to maintain the quality and integrity of the Center’s programming during this relocation period,” said Greg Moore, executive director of the Parks Conservancy, lead agency for the Crissy Field Center relocation. Several sites and building solutions were evaluated based on their ability to meet stringent accessibility, budget, environmental compliance, safety and timeline demands.

“This new building exceeds our expectations—not only does it meet these requirements, but the stunning design reflects the magnificent location,” Moore added. “The level of cooperation among the participating organizations has been tremendous and ensures that everyone—especially urban youth—will continue to benefit from the Crissy Field Center programs.”

The structures were designed by San Francisco based Project FROG, a leading manufacturer of “smart” buildings that utilize integrated technology to optimize environmental, economic, and human performance. “The FROG solution combines key attributes such as abundant natural daylight to minimize the need for electrical light, low VOC (volatile organic compound) content materials for improved air quality, better sightlines, and optimal acoustics, to achieve an environment that enhances learning without compromising aesthetics or affordability,” said Mark Miller, AIA, LEED AP, founder of Project FROG. “We are proud to work with the Crissy Field Center in creating one of the most technologically advanced, energy efficient, and healthy buildings in the park, which can also serve as a teaching tool for the Center’s youth participants and general public.”

The Center is projected to perform 20 percent better than California Title 24 standards require, and the advanced pre-engineering substantially reduces the demand for raw materials and makes the construction site virtually waste free. Fisher Development, Project FROG’s installation partner, is using a solar powered generator to further minimize environmental impact. The project is creating an industry buzz and several vendors have offered material upgrades or product donations. Some features include:

  • Exterior panels made from old growth redwood salvaged from the historic Cal Park Hill Railway Tunnel, paired with EcoClad—a bio-composite material engineered from post-consumer paper/wood fiber and bamboo fiber
  • InterfaceFlor carpet tiles made with 70 percent recycled content
  • Energy efficient lighting systems with daylight sensors and occupancy controls by Peerless Lighting
  • A 2,500-gallon rainwater catchment tank to provide enough water to cover more than half the Center’s annual toilet flushing needs
  • Plans for a solar thermal heating system that can generate hot water for all the snack bar operations

Further, the new temporary Center is under consideration as a potential Federal demonstration site for alternative energy production, enabling scientists to test out new solar and wind technologies. The Crissy Field site is considered ideal because of the variable sun and wind conditions that allow for “load balance” analysis. This would complement many of the Center’s existing collaborative programs like Project WISE (Watersheds Inspiring Student Education), which could expand its energy lesson plans to include high school students monitoring the building’s energy use and creation, conducting air testing (ground-level ozone), as well as exploring carbon dioxide and traffic studies on the Golden Gate Bridge and within the Presidio. With the grant, the Center could expand its renewables to include bird safe, vertical wind turbines, making the building energy neutral or possibly net energy positive and capable of generating power back into the grid.

Once the Doyle Drive/Presidio Parkway roadway is complete in three to five years, Crissy Field Center will return to 603 Mason Street and the interim modular units will be re-used or relocated to another park location. Visit for more details and updates or call (415) 561 7752 for questions on the Crissy Field Center relocation. For more information on the Doyle Drive/Presidio Parkway replacement project, please visit For more information on Project FROG’s smart buildings, please visit

Crissy Field Center is a partnership of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service, and the Presidio Trust. Crissy Field Center programs encourage new generations to become bold leaders for thriving parks, healthier communities, and a more environmentally just society.

Media Contact:
Parks Conservancy: David Shaw (415) 561 3064;

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