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Presidio Officers’ Club

San Francisco, California

Presidio Officers' Club

The Presidio Officers’ Club is the Presidio Park’s museum and cultural center. In collaboration with the Presidio Trust of San Francisco, RAA designed exhibits that interpret the Presidio’s structures, which are some of the city’s oldest. Beginning with those built by Spanish colonial settlers in the late 18th century, interpretation on the site tells the story of the military and social heritage of this iconic place.

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RAA’s interpretive approach was inspired by archaeology projects conducted at the site over the past 15 years. We centered our work around the idea that uncovering the Presidio’s story—like its archaeology—is an ongoing endeavor. Therefore, objects, images, oral histories, and linear and interactive media immerse visitors in this history, while leaving open questions that remain unanswered.

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Each layer, representing four distinct eras of building history, is brought to life by gobo silhouettes of people who once inhabited the room. A multichannel soundscape provides a poetic storytelling experience by animating the space with sounds that reflect the changing use of the space over time.

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In the Heritage Gallery, emotional connections are forged with visitors through vivid storytelling and theatrical immersion. Graphics in the shape of books, with pages that can be turned, emphasize storytelling aspects of the exhibit. Other elements, such as a timeline keyed to national and international events and a large map that can be changed as more areas of the Presidio are restored or uncovered, evoke the notion of “layers.”

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The dramatic media headers—three large-scale, staggered projection screens suspended above the historical exhibits—show an ever-changing panoply of landscapes, places, and faces in the upper levels of the gallery, expressing the wealth of the Presidio’s cultural fabric.

Year 2014

Size 12,000 square feet

Architect Perkins + Will

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