CAMP v. Kitsch

I honestly don't know enough about Gap founder Don Fisher's proposal, designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects, for the Contemporary Art Museum Presidio (CAMP) to comment with much intelligence on the merits of the proposed design or the seemingly ever-shifting site. But it is not for lack of dramatic coverage in local and national media. I'm certainly sympathetic to modern and contemporary buildings sited adjacent to traditional and historic ones, but CAMP's critics might be right in their claims that this proposal would overwhelm the historic main post, unnecessarily destroy an archeological site and some historic buildings, and be far from good public transport.

I do know Fisher's approach has been all wrong. He marched in, with the typical tone-deaf bluster of an executive accustomed to getting his way, site pre-selected and an architect's presentation-ready design in hand, and seemingly expected San Franciscans to say "thank you very much, Mr. Fisher, and may I get you a drink?"

And of course he has every right to do this. Fisher is set to exhibit an outstanding collection of contemporary art for the world to see and he is willing to pay for the building to house it. But not if he wants to actually see his museum built, especially in the Presidio.

A far better approach would have more closely resembled an interesting exhibit, CAMP: Reconsidered, that opened a few weeks ago and runs until December 23rd at gallery 3A. Mark Horton runs gallery 3A as a side project of his architectural studio. Located on South Park (think Colby Park, but with small workshops and a bistro) in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood, gallery 3A focuses on bridging the world of architects with that of the general public, a mission I obviously share.

Tonight at 7:00 is a panel discussion on the exhibit, in which ten local architects were asked to run wild with ideas for a museum in the Presidio. Gallery 3A is about a fifteen minute walk from BART's Montgomery Station and should make for an interesting evening for anyone who likes architecture, galleries or beautiful small urban spaces.

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