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Presidio Earns Two Preservation Design Awards


Presidio of San Francisco (October 6, 2009) — An historic airplane hangar that’s been reborn as a swim school for kids and one of the Presidio’s historic gateways have been honored with Preservation Design awards, the Presidio Trust and the California Preservation Foundation have announced. The Arguello Gate was honored in the Craftsmanship/Preservation Technology category while La Petite Baleen received an award in the Rehabilitation-Large category. They were among 25 winners in nine categories statewide.

“We are of course honored to be recognized,” says Joshua Bagley, the La Petite Baleen project manager for the Presidio Trust. “But this award is really a testament to the collaborative effort between the family that runs La Petite Baleen, Stanton architects and the Trust. Our success is the result of a total team effort.”

Built in 1921, Building 933 was originally a hangar at the Crissy Field airstrip. Most recently it served as a warehouse for Trust maintenance crews. A shining example of the adaptive re-use of an historic building, the swim school, which opened in June of 2008, features two specially designed pools and on- and off-deck viewing areas for spectators.

“We took an underutilized building and transformed it into one that’s alive every day with activities for kids and families,” explains Bagley. “We’ve been able to maintain the building’s historic character while making improvements to ensure it’s around for another 40-50 years.”

While La Petite Baleen was recognized for its rehabilitation and re-use, the Arguello Gate was honored for its restoration.

More than a century of San Francisco weather and other wear and tear had taken its toll on the gate that was erected by the Army in 1896. Some of the gate’s piers had cracks so large one could see through to the other side. In 1996, one of the large capstones that sit atop the gate’s piers was knocked off when a truck crashed into the wall.

After replacing the capstone, crews began repairing the piers and walls through a combination of brute force and painstaking carving. To repair the giant cracks, the piers were wrapped with nylon straps and were literally pulled together. Working from photographs and using mortar and basic sculpting tools, craftsmen set about recreating the gate’s intricate designs.

“We’re extremely proud of the preservation work we do,” says Christina Wallace architectural conservator for the Trust. “It’s always exciting when others recognize that work and honor it with an award.”

Founded in 1977, the California Preservation Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of California’s diverse cultural and architectural heritage. With over 1,500 members it is the leading voice for historic preservation in the state.

The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to administer the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The areas overseen by the Trust include expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The park comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to the Presidio’s status as a National Historic Landmark District.

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Lisa Petrie

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