13Aug08_CAMP.jpg

So, no CAMP after all, eh San Francisco? Nearly a year after skipping town for New York, I read about the demise of Don Fisher’s plan for a 100,000 square-foot, Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed glass playpen for his personal art collection with the same perverse fascination that led me to follow the story obsessively as the former editor of Curbed SF, where I came to see the public reaction to Operation CAMP (which has constituted nothing less than–to slip back into the Curbed patois for one sweet, sweet moment–a total, unmitigated shitshow) as a cautionary tale of sorts.

How did one 87-year-old retail magnate manage to draw the ire of an entire city? Sure, it doesn’t take much. San Franciscans tend to push the full court press when it comes to local politics, and there are some real Olympic hopefuls dribbling down the corridors of City Hall. A project of this architectural magnitude, with this degree of national and international visibility, offers all involved parties–preservationists, planners, architects, art lovers, NIMBYs, and otherwise concerned citizens–a public platform from which to advance their own agendas.

Critics sprang into action when the final decision was announced. The resounding cry: “If not there, where?” Chron architecture critic John King cast his vote for Sue Bierman Park. This week’s word on the street says that SFMOMA might expand into the fire station on Howard Street in order to subsume Fisher’s collection. Well, I’ve got a few ideas, too. So join me for a moment in suspending our collective disbelief (and while we’re at it, why not give our wagging tongues a rest by planting them firmly in our cheeks?)

Danielle Steele’s House: If a building called ‘Spreckles’ isn’t a fitting enough home for a museum named CAMP, then consider the possibilities should Steele herself choose to lend her literary talents to the cause. Brace for a whole new genre of exhibition catalogue essay, no advanced degree required.

A project of this architectural magnitude, with this degree of national and international visibility, offers all involved parties a public platform from which to advance their own agendas.The Cala parking lot at the corner of Haight and Stanyan: Wipes out the whole 690 Stanyan condo/Whole Foods mess while maintaining proximity to The CA Academy of Sciences and the deYoung–this is about starchitectural solidarity, people. The adjacent McDonalds situated just across the street effectively eliminates the need for a museum caf. (More discerning palates may proceed to the Alembic.) Amoeba records and the assortment of head shops along Haight will provide delightful alternatives to the museum gift shop, too.

The Pagoda Theater: [Insert North Beach NIMBY joke here. Cultural references may include, but are not limited to: any and all neighborhood associations, Aaron Peskin, zoning wars, alcohol bans, frozen yogurt and drunk dialing.]

The Hibernia Bank Building: Sure, 1 Jones Street sold last September for $3.9 million to Dolmen Property Group, whose $117 million renovation of the spot has already been credited for a conspicuous reduction of crack cocaine use in the area (if only by a vial or two). Do recall that the building was previously owned by the decidedly shady His Holiness Grandmaster Professor Thomas Lin-Yun, the founder and supreme leader of the contemporary Black Sect Tantric Buddhism in its fourth stage, a fact that is of negligible consequence to a contemporary art museum, save for this: Lin-Yun is also a Feng Shui master. The next generation of curator? At this point in the story, nothing should surprise us.

The Gap: When facing life’s most difficult questions, one sometimes finds that even the most maddeningly elusive solutions have actually been there all along. Think about it: Fisher’s Market Street flagship comes replete with a uniformed security staff, along with easy access to public transportation and an endless stream of tourist revenue. Bonus: The crazykins who spends his days planted at the crosswalk, proselytizing against sex to passersby can be billed as a permanent performance installation. Plus, Old Navy will provide for future expansion opportunities as Fisher’s collection grows.

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  • somawally

    Fairfield … when in doubt … Fairfield.