What should be done with San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts?

What should be done with San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts?
Gabriel Martinez (l to r) of San Jose leads Gabriela De La Torre of San Martin down steps on the rotunda at the Palace of Fine Arts after they posed for engagement photos on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 in San Francisco, Calif.

The problem with beloved one-of-a-kind landmarks is that, yes, they’re one of a kind. They’re irreplaceable relics of our collective past, and that’s what can make their next life so confounding.

The latest example is the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina, one of the odder outposts of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department. Three contenders are in the running to restore and revive the century-old structure, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that the ideal solution is one that we haven’t yet seen.

Such as a cultural citadel run by the city, one that would join the de Young Museum and the Palace of the Legion of Honor.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I also need to stress that whatever happens next poses no risk to the Palace’s visual one-two punch of a lagoon against a grandiose yet romantic rotunda designed by Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Not only is the scene protected, it was the focus of an extensive restoration completed in 2010. […]


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