Presidio of San Francisco (February 11, 2003) — Ground was broken at the site of the former Letterman Army Hospital for the new Letterman Digital Arts Center to be built by Star Wars creator George Lucas.
The Letterman Digital Arts Center, a 23-acre complex on the northeast corner of the Presidio, will house Lucasfilm Ltd. divisions such as LucasArts Entertainment and his special effects companies. The 850,000 square foot complex and its campus-like setting are expected to be completed in three years, and to include an underground parking garage.
“There is no better place for a digital arts center than here,” said Toby Rosenblatt, chairman of the Presidio Trust Board of Directors. “The Presidio is the perfect place for George Lucas to discover new frontiers.” Rosenblatt was joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.
Digital arts – particularly digital cinema – is “the art form of the 21st century” and the presence of this major digital arts center in the Bay Area should make the region a rival to Hollywood as a movie-making center,” Lucas said at the sun-splashed groundbreaking ceremy held before about 75 people overlooking the Palace of Fine Arts.
“There is an intensely creative film community here in the Bay Area, and it needs to be recognized as such,” Lucas said. “This is a way of saying, ‘Don’t call us Hollywood – we’re not.'” The special effects campus, due for completion in 2005, is envisioned as the focus for a Northern California filmmaking mecca and “a site for the creation of world cinema.”
Lucas said he used to visit the Presidio when he was a youth. “I was impressed – it was so beautiful, it was a military base, it was romantic,” he said. “There’s no other place where I’d rather develop a digital arts facility.”
Created by Congress in 1996, the Presidio Trust is charged with preserving the Presidio’s natural, historic, scenic, and recreational resources while making the park financially self-sufficient by 2013. Six Presidential appointees and the Secretary of the Interior or her designee sit on the Board of Directors and oversee all the non-coastal areas of the park.
Letterman Digital Arts Ltd. is the property management and development subsidiary of Lucasfilm Ltd. Other Lucasfilm Ltd.developments include its headquarters and creative complex known as Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. It also developed an additional office complex at Big Rock Ranch, which is adjacent to Skywalker Ranch.”