The BRIDGE at the Presidio
In 2013, WRNS Studio, in partnership with Chora, was one of three finalists invited by the Presidio Trust to develop a new cultural institution at the former Commissary Site at Crissy Field. The three proposals were The Presidio Exchange (a park-based cultural center), Lucas Cultural Arts Museum and ours, the BRIDGE.
After a long process involving extensive community outreach, the Trust decided to postpone development of the site. What follows is an op-ed we wrote, originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle, which made the case for a cultural institution dedicated to social, environmental and economic stewardship.
History has given us a handful of new ages – times when civilization takes a great leap forward. When we learn to see the world differently. We look differently at ourselves and others. We do things better (for the most part).
These big shifts come about as a result of a perfect storm: (1) an imbalance in social, environmental or economic harmony, (2) technological advances, and (3) the will of the people. We are, once again, at a threshold moment in history. Now it is time to turn back and examine all we've done. What do we see? What must we do to heal our planet and care for our people? What immense responsibilities have our great intellects and activists, including John Muir, Rachel Carson, Cesar Chavez and Harvey Milk, bestowed upon us?
In some ways, it's simple. We need to live our lives differently to move forward. We need to rethink how we treat each other, how we make and consume things, and how we care for our planet. The challenge lies in our ability and willingness to act.
Sustainability is the defining issue of our time, and holistic sustainability (social, economic, environmental) will define how we move into the future. What better place to serve as one of the seats (and we need many) for this global movement than San Francisco, and our port, the Presidio?
From here, we have a vantage like no other. We have the intellect, creativity, technology and we certainly bring the political will.
Now is the time. But why specifically on the former commissary site of the Presidio?
Few sites on Earth are blessed with such views – water, hills, bridge, city. This site is about vantage, connection and threshold. It is a place of national and international significance. The Presidio is a cultural identity for the region, and a gateway to the world.
What belongs here is the most public of things because this is a place that belongs to all of us. It deserves something big and important – something that holds at its core the human condition.
The BRIDGE will be such a place.