Disney Museum Takes Shape in San Francisco's Presidio

Posted on: September 25th, 2007 by Margaret Foster

1897 Presidio barracks (Page & Turnbull)Disney in the Presidio?

That's right. This month, workers are busy converting three historic buildings in San Francisco's Presidio, a National Park, for the future Walt Disney Family Museum.

"People are very surprised," says Carolyn Kiernat, principal at Page & Turnbull, the San Francisco firm overseeing the project. "Their first question tends to be 'Why in the Presidio?'"

Two years ago, Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Miller, and her husband, Ron, asked Jay Turnbull to design a museum near their home in Northern California about her father's life and work.

The family found the site ideal, Kiernat says. "Walt Disney was a huge fan of the military and Gen. Pershing [who commanded the Presidio] in particular." In addition, she says, the museum building "recalls the Main Street USA in Disney World."

Construction began in May on the 1897 barracks, which, along with a glass-and-steel addition, will serve as the exhibit hall. A 1904 gym will become offices and archives, and a 1940s munitions shed will house the complex's mechanical systems.

All three buildings, and many others that make up the National Historic Landmark, have been abandoned since 1994. Last year the museum signed a 40-year lease for the federal property.

"We're working very closely with the [nonprofit] Presidio Trust to make sure we don't damage or remove any historic fabric," says Lada Kocherovsky of Page & Turnbull.

Enclosed by a courtyard, the new addition will have views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay.

"We were trying to take some cues from the historic building as far as height, but really our approach was one of subtle contrast," Kiernat says.

The 72,000-square-foot museum is scheduled to be completed in 2009.�

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