San Francisco, CA (November 18, 2019) – The chief designer guiding the Presidio’s 25-year transformation from America’s most storied Army post to one of its most visited national park sites has been honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for lifetime achievement. Michael Boland, Chief of Park Development and Visitor Engagement for the Presidio Trust, was elected to ASLA’s Council of Fellows in a ceremony on November 17 in San Diego.
Council of Fellows members are recognized for their extraordinary work, leadership, knowledge, and service to the profession. Election to this esteemed body is among the highest honors in the industry. Boland was one of 22 Fellows to be invested at the international gathering.
Says John Reynolds, who served in the National Park Service for 39 years, including time in 1996-1997 as the Interim General Manager of the Presidio: “It is seldom that a landscape architect can be recognized for his or her impact on one place through time. Michael is a rare individual professional who has done so, and he deserves to be recognized by its national professional organization with its highest honor.”
Boland’s career at the Presidio began in 1989 when he began an internship at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area while writing his graduate thesis at UC Berkeley. In 1990, he was tapped to be the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Director of Park Projects, where he reimagined the Presidio’s Crissy Field, transforming a derelict Army airstrip along San Francisco’s northern waterfront into one of the most travelled sections of the entire U.S. national park system. The $34.4 million project was unveiled to the public in May 2001.
Boland joined the Presidio Trust as planning director in 2001, where he has been the chief “park-maker” guiding the transformation of the Presidio’s built environment and natural areas, striving to combine optimal public enjoyment with the preservation of biodiversity. His thought leadership in park planning and design has resulted in a national park site that is welcoming to all, providing 7.5 million annual visitors with the benefits of a beautiful green space within a city.
He has led the 20-year effort to restore the national park’s Tennessee Hollow Watershed, returning streams once buried by the Army back to the surface, creating precious habitat for native plants and wildlife as well an opportunity for visitors to experience nature up close. This project takes a major step forward in coming months as seven acres of newly restored marshland link the watershed to San Francisco Bay. He also oversaw the redesign of the Presidio’s Rob Hill Campground, where Boland first discovered the Presidio as a child visiting with his Boy Scout troop. Other signature projects include the restoration of Mountain Lake, the creation of a comprehensive trail system with 24 miles of hiking trails and eight scenic overlooks, and the restoration of the historic Main Parade ground as a public gathering space. Boland was instrumental in rehabilitating the Presidio Officers’ Club, one of San Francisco’s oldest buildings that now houses the Presidio’s museum and archaeology center.
Boland’s largest project to date is the Presidio Tunnel Tops, slated to open fall of 2021. Overseeing work by James Corner Field Operations, the designer of New York’s High Line, Boland has steered the effort to create 14 acres of new landscaping on top of highway tunnels plus a three-building Youth Campus to educate the next generation of park stewards.
Says Reynolds, “Michael has a special ability to incorporate input from a broad representation of the public, some voices often underrepresented. He has spent his career synthesizing input from a wide range of other professional engineers, biologists, historic preservation specialists and managers to define the vision, the aesthetic standards and the public benefits for the Presidio.”
Boland holds masters’ degrees from University of California at Berkeley in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and City and Regional Planning. Other notable projects include the Alcatraz Overall Island Plan, Marin Headlands Visitor Center, and San Francisco’s National AIDS Memorial Grove. He is regularly invited to speak around the world, most recently in Russia.
About the Presidio and the Presidio Trust
The Presidio Trust is a federal agency that manages the Presidio of San Francisco, a national park at the heart of the 82,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In partnership with the National Park Service and the non-profit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the Presidio Trust brings alive the park’s historic, natural, and recreational assets for the inspiration, education, health, and enjoyment of all people at no cost to taxpayers. Spanning nearly 1,500 acres in a spectacular setting at the Golden Gate, the Presidio is defined by its history, spectacular views, natural habitats, and beautiful opens spaces. It is home to 3,000 residents and 200 tenant organizations, many of which welcome and serve the public. The Presidio Trust is focused on welcoming all to the national park experience, protecting and enhancing the environment, and operating in service to the public. Learn more at www.presidio.gov.
About the American Society of Landscape Architects
Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the professional association for landscape architects in the United States, representing more than 15,000 members. The Society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education, and fellowship. Sustainability has been part of ASLA’s mission since its founding and is an overarching value that informs all of the Society’s programs and operations. ASLA has been a leader in demonstrating the benefits of green infrastructure and resilient development practices through the creation of its own green roof, co-development of the SITES® Rating System, and the creation of publicly accessible sustainable design resources.