Originally slated to debut in October 2021 following a fall 2019 “realization” event, the Presidio Tunnel Tops, a 14-acre elevated park in San Francisco’s sprawling Golden Gate National Recreation Area, finally opened to the public last weekend July 17th to much fanfare from Locals, reviews, pint sized park goersand the city technological elite look alike. (Naturally, Karl the fog also blessed the park with his presence during opening weekend.)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chaired at a groundbreaking ceremony on July 16, calling the highly anticipated new park a “majestic new public space” that will serve as a “magnificent beacon of recreation, education and community in our city.”
“The Presidio Tunnel Tops unique outdoor recreation and exploration space may be the first introduction to the national park system for many visitors,” proclaimed Carey Feierabend, acting superintendent of the Golden National Recreation Area. Spoiled. “We are thrilled to welcome them to this community-designed space, especially as we plan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area this fall.”
The $118 million project at the Presidio, a former U.S. Army outpost-turned-parkland that encompasses 1,500 acres of the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, was born of a collaboration between the Presidio Trust, the National Park Service and the nonprofit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (operating together as a partnership for the Presidio) with the San Francisco office of James Corner Field Operations, which was selected to serve as the design partner in 2014 via an international design competition. (Other shortlisted teams included CMG Landscape Architecture, OLIN, West 8 and Snøhetta). Swinerton Builders served as the project’s contractor.
As detailed by A earlier this year, when the park’s opening date was officially announced, Presidio Tunnel Tops effectively tops a vehicular tunnel — a pair of tunnels, to be exact. The Presidio Parkway Tunnels were built to replace Doyle Drive, an earthquake-prone 1930s freeway overpass that for decades passed through the heart of the Presidio on its approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. With the disruptive and aging highway finally moved underground, the next step was to cover the concrete tunnels with an expanse of rolling green space in a remarkable feat of engineering. Equally impressive were the fundraising prowess that brought the project to life – the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy raised a whopping $98 million for the project from private donors through its Tunnel Tops fundraising campaign. .
Among other features, visitors to the newly opened Presidio Tunnel Peaks will find winding cliffside paths, picnic areas equipped with grills, expansive gardens and meadows filled with native vegetation, expansive open lawns, a playground, two-acre natural playground for kids dubbed the Outpost which ranks as the largest in the Bay Area, and several elevated vantage points offering sweeping views of the city and bridge. The new strip of parks with superior infrastructure, which was shaped by countless hours of community engagement sessions, merges the waterfront and Crissy Field, a former airfield that now serves as a popular recreation hotspot, with the post main bustling historic Presidio.
As noted A the 2019 field operations design utilizes the steep slopes required to clear the tunnels with the inclusion of seating steps molded from the lawn (the park’s grassy amphitheater was aptly named the Presidio Steps) , observation decks and an open plaza with a large unplanned platform.
In addition to the aforementioned Tunnel Head Park features, adjacent amenities and attractions realized as part of the redesign include a spacious clubhouse, campfire circle and the newly renovated Crissy Field Center and Field Station, a new center indoor experiential learning center for children where convenient offerings change with the seasons. Both attractions are located right next to the outpost, which features play elements created from rocks, fallen tree trunks, and other natural materials. On the other side of the park are the Presidio transit and visitor centers.
“We are delighted that Presidio Tunnel Tops will offer even more green spaces for relaxation, reflection and above all play,” said Jean Fraser, CEO of the Presidio Trust, in a press release. “We added an amazing nature playground, many more picnic benches, food trucks, carts and tents, rangers with campfire chats and much more.”
Public art can also be seen at the Presidio Tunnel Tops, with the opening season kicking off with Ancestral futurism: going back to repair the future, a temporary outdoor wall installation by local artist Favianna Rodriguez. A solid slate of public programming is planned for the coming weeks and includes major festivals and the Sunday afternoon series.
The new park also offers an outdoor food and drink program dubbed the Presidio Pop Up that includes a large brigade of mobile vendors – trucks, tents and carts – offering everything from borscht and vegan tacos to artisan donuts and snacks. craft cocktails. As noted by Tessa McLean for SFGatethe multitude of food and liquor vendors operating daily at Presidio Tunnel Tops alleviates a long-standing shortage of places to dine and drink in the area.
Lots more about Presidio Tunnel Tops can be found here.