What Will Become of the Palace of Fine Arts?

What Will Become of the Palace of Fine Arts?


One-hundred years ago, an architect by the name of Bernard Maybeck (you may have heard of him) designed the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo and World Fair. Today, it is on the market, so to speak, with SF Rec and Park requesting proposals for longterm tenants who could transform the landmark for private-public use.

Back in December 2014, Rec and Park issued a press release announcing a request for proposals (RFCP)—an extended deadline for which was just announced on Tuesday April 28—for what General Manager Phil Ginsburg called "a unique business opportunity" for private businesses to pitch creative takeovers of the 140,000 square-foot structure, which was previously home to the Exploratorium. The whole idea being that this beloved local landmark (which, let's be honest, is a wonderfully faux-idyllic tourist trap better geared to starry-eyed brides and last year's Game of Thrones premiere than to any really serious business) would be both open to the public and also generate revenue for the new tenant, who will be expected to invest in necessary upgrades to the building.

Originally built as a temporary structure for the 1915 World Fair, the Palace enjoyed an approximately $8 million restoration in the mid-60s; a seismic retrofit in the '90s; a $21 million reno, in partnership with the Maybeck Foundation, in 1993. According to the release, there will be a process of public review, as well as regulatory body, throughout the selection and negotiation process, which will determine the Palace's next iteration and its lease agreement.

So here's our question: What would you like to see at the Palace of Fine Arts? Personally, we're imagining a fantastical new home for the Walt Disney Family Museum, or perhaps a watery venue for live pirate reenactments on the lagoon, hosted by Daniel Handler and the guys at 826 Valencia. But what about you?

Should you like to actually submit a proposal, head over here by May 22. Or, for fun, click over to Facebook and tell us what you'd like to see from the future Palace of Fine Arts.

Cue the amazing (and possibly hairbrained) ideas. (Calling George Lucas! Calling George Lucas!)

PS: For a nostalgic look at more SF landmarks, check out this delightful 1958 video:

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