Dynamic New Focal Point Introduces the Presidio Experience to Locals and Visitors Alike; Opening Marks a Major Milestone in the Presidio’s Post to Park Transformation
PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 11, 2017) — The Presidio of San Francisco, once a prestigious military installation that defended the Golden Gate for centuries, is taking a major leap forward in welcoming the public to what has become one of America’s most unique and surprising national parks. On Saturday, February 25, 2017, the William Penn Mott, Jr. Presidio Visitor Center celebrates its grand opening, creating a dynamic new focal point for park goers to discover all that the 1,500 acre oasis in the heart of urban San Francisco has to offer.
“We are delighted to launch this new gateway to the Presidio, which serves to welcome the broader public to the park,” said Jean S. Fraser, Chief Executive Officer for the Presidio Trust. “Now everyone from the Bay Area and beyond can easily discover the Presidio’s free resources—history, spectacular vistas, wild open spaces, trails and opportunities for play.”
“The building is rich in history, but this visitor center is all about the future,” said Craig Kenkel, Acting General Superintendent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). “The Presidio is becoming a world class destination to welcome new audiences to a second century for the national parks.”
While millions of people have discovered aspects of the Presidio, which covers five percent of San Francisco’s acreage, there hasn’t been a place for visitors to get to know the entire park until now. Today visitors can enjoy the Presidio Officers’ Club’s museum galleries and free concerts, films, lectures, and family events. In addition, visitors can hike on a dozen major trails; see outdoor installations by world-renowned artists; explore cultural and historical museums; jump on a trampoline in a former airplane hangar; birdwatch at restored wetlands; soak in incredible Golden Gate views at 10 scenic overlooks and vistas; participate in outdoor events, picnics, and festivals; and enjoy a self guided tour on a free shuttle system; and so much more.
Since the US Army lowered its flag for the last time in 1994, the Presidio’s historic buildings and natural areas have been gradually revitalized to welcome the public in a dramatic “post to park” transformation stewarded by three agencies: the Presidio Trust, the National Park Service, and the non profit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Says Greg Moore, President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy: “The Presidio Visitor Center will be the focal point to providing access to all parts of the Presidio and the greater Golden Gate National Recreation Area, exemplifying the American ideal that our national parks belong to everyone. We are grateful for the generous gifts to the Conservancy from the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and the William Penn Mott, Jr. Memorial Fund, to make the dream of a visitor center a reality. We look forward to working with the philanthropic community on the next park milestone, the Presidio Tunnel Tops project.”
The William Penn Mott, Jr. Presidio Visitor Center sits at the pinnacle of a site once dominated by a freeway. Parts of that roadway, formerly known as Doyle Drive, have been hidden in tunnels, allowing for the creation of a spectacular new 14-acre landscape currently being designed by James Corner Field Operations, the makers of New York City’s High Line. The project, known, as the Presidio Tunnel Tops will open in 2019, marking the Presidio’s 25th anniversary as a national park. That effort is led by the same tri-agency partnership.
The Historic Visitor Center Building
The Presidio Visitor Center is housed in a refurbished historic (circa 1900) guardhouse in the heart of the park with views overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. It features a two-room layout that preserves many aspects of its historic use and distinctive architecture, while updating the space with contemporary exhibitions. Construction on the $5 million visitor center, with architect Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and exhibit designer Macchiatto, began in June 2016 with a goal for LEED Commercial Interior Gold certification.
Dynamic Interactive Exhibits
The Presidio Visitor Center offers some of the most state of the art, interactive exhibits in the national park system. Just inside the entrance is a large scale Presidio model surrounded by touchscreen panels that help visitors select destinations to visit during their day in the park. A large video wall features a calendar of daily events and dramatic imagery of the Presidio, which is also connected to the presidio.gov mobile website. A dynamic, digital, interactive table in English, Chinese and Spanish, invites visitors to make connections among people, places, and events that have shaped the Presidio across two centuries. Other exhibits include a “Voices of the Presidio” display in which several community members use shadowbox art to share what the park means to them. Additional exhibits showcase the history and natural setting of the park’s four major regions: the Main Post (the cultural heart of the Presidio), the Golden Gate (iconic views), Crissy Field (recreation), and the Southern Wilds (nature exploration). The center is staffed by knowledgeable interpreters to help visitors at all times.
In conjunction with the visitor center’s exhibits and orientation features, the interpretive retail area is a dynamic environment that offers a changing collection of high-quality merchandise interpreting the many themes of the Presidio and tools for exploring the park. Curated by the award-winning Parks Conservancy team, the merchandise will educate, engage, and inspire visitors. Interpretive retail offerings are divided into two areas: Park Tools, or supplies to enjoy a day in the Presidio; and Park Learning or items used for more in-depth exploration of themes like nature, history, or conservation.
About William Penn Mott, Jr.
William Penn Mott, Jr. was a lifelong supporter of public parks, which he successfully championed during his tenures as Superintendent of Parks for the city of Oakland, General Manager of the East Bay Regional Park District, and Director of California’s Department of Parks and Recreation. He founded the non-profit California State Park Foundation in 1969, and was later appointed as Director of the National Park Service, a post he held from 1985 to 1989. As special assistant to the National Park Service, he was assigned to support the conversion of the Presidio from military post to national park. He died in 1992.
About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close to home recreational opportunities. To learn more about the National Park Service, visit www.nps.gov.
About the Presidio Trust
The Presidio Trust is an innovative federal agency created to save the Presidio and employ a partnership approach to transform it into a new kind of national park. Spanning 1,500 acres in a spectacular setting at the Golden Gate, the Presidio now operates without taxpayer support, is home to a community of residents and organizations, and offers unique recreation, hospitality, and educational programs to people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and the world. To learn more, visit www.presidio.gov.
About the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
The Parks Conservancy is the nonprofit membership organization that supports the Golden Gate National Parks—the most visited unit in the national park system in the United States. Since 1981, the Parks Conservancy has provided over $300 million in aid for site transformations, habitat restorations, research and conservation, volunteer and youth engagement, and interpretive and educational programs. The Conservancy’s work is made possible through the dedication of its members and donors; contributions from foundations, businesses, public agencies, and generous individuals, as well as earned income from the operation of park stores, cafes, and tours. Learn more at parksconservancy.org or call (415) 561 3000.
Attention Calendar Editors
Presidio Visitor Center Grand Opening Community Day
Date: Saturday, February 25, 10am – 4pm
Place: 210 Lincoln Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94129
Phone: (415) 561 4323
Start your day in the Presidio at the new William Penn Mott, Jr. Presidio Visitor Center! Located in the heart of the Presidio, the new center features videos, exhibits, and interactive tools that let you see the park in a whole new way. Grab a map, get ideas from friendly staff members, and create your own adventure. Join us for a festive Grand Opening day with activities, entertainment, tours and more.
William Penn Mott, Jr. Presidio Visitor Center
210 Lincoln Boulevard, on the Presidio’s Main Post, San Francisco
Open Seven Days a Week, 10 am to 5 pm – beginning February 25, 2017
Tel. (415) 561 4323
Visit www.presidio.gov/visitor center for details
PRESS KIT: For fact sheets and photos visit www.presidio.gov/press
Please contact us for additional information and photos, interviews, or a possible tour.