CLEVELAND-BASED Forest City Residential has a reputation for taking on difficult-to-execute projects. The Presidio Landmark certainly fits that description.
Located in the 42-acre Public Health Service District in the southwest corner of the Presidio of San Francisco national park, the six-story building was originally a marine hospital built in 1932, but time, graffiti, and two wings added in the early 1950s ruined much of the building’s original character.
“Being a public/private partnership with Presidio Trust [created by Congress to manage and fund the Presidio], and having the opportunity to help them create value and renew a part of the park that was adjacent and within the context of the city, was a great fit for Forest City,” says Alexa Arena , a vice president of development and head of Forest City’s San Francisco office.
Once Forest City won the project, the developer had a lot of work to do. It removed the mid-century wings—which had blocked and altered historic windows, decorative limestone, and interior entries—and reestablished the main entrance by restoring the building’s original limestone façade, outdoor main stairs, front doors, and lobby (all of which had been changed by a previously added main story and arrival court and portico). The developer also refurbished 714 double-hung, mullioned windows; used glass fiber–reinforced polymer molds to provide exact replicas of exterior molding; and restored the brick, limestone, and terra cotta found in the exteriors and the lobby area and stairs, among many other tasks.
Instead of going with a cookie-cutter apartment layout, which would have been easy to adopt in an old hospital, Forest City created 24 different unit formats that maximize window exposure. The company also delivered community amenities such as a private dining room, wine tasting area and chef’s kitchen, two private courtyards with a hot tub and fire pit, a gym, and a bike storage room and bike maintenance room.
“We toured the park for inspiration," Arena says. “The paint shade you see is used in the Presidio social club. And all the finishes [present] a very natural, modern, clean look that’s within the context of being in a national park near the forest."