Presidio Tunnel Tops
The Presidio Tunnel Tops bridges over the newly tunneled Presidio Parkway (formerly Doyle Drive), which for years has separated the historic Main Post from the highly popular waterfront below, including Crissy Field and Crissy Marsh. The Tunnel Tops effectively reconnects the city to the bay. Through a series of connecting pathways, bluff landscapes, dynamic overlooks, and social gathering places, the Tunnel Tops is set to become a central place to meet and learn, to experience, to enjoy, and to forge new forms of community and events.
The Gateway Plaza, the social and connective center of the park, hosts the newly renovated Visitor Center and Transit Center, the latter of which serves as the primary method for visitors to arrive at the Presidio via public transit to begin their visit. Additionally, a diagonal line of movement will invite visitors to walk from the Presidio’s Main Parade Ground across the Tunnel Tops through the Gateway Plaza and eventually down to the Youth Campus at Mason Street. A series of curved pathways broaden circulation around the site and provide a diversity of experience and access. The Gateway Plaza leads directly to the Anza Esplanade, which is the primary path across the upper level and leads directly to the Central Overlook, and then down the bluff.
The Campfire Circle is situated at the edge of the Main Parade Ground and adjacent to the Gateway Plaza. With a central fire pit and plentiful seating that can accommodate Ranger Talks, the Campfire Circle is a gathering place for both day and night, amidst a rich, garden-like setting. One of the Campfire Circle’s unique features is that it can support tree growth and larger shrubs, since it is on solid land instead of on top of the tunnel structure. Torrey Pines, Banksia, cypress, and other evergreens provide shade throughout the area while also enhancing the site’s natural protection from prevailing winds.
Golden Gate Meadow
One of the largest areas of the Tunnel Tops, the Golden Gate Meadow is a serene landscape of tall grasses and perennials that frames a generous open lawn that will become San Francisco’s go-to place for picnicking, kite-flying, family gatherings, and other types of recreation. Bordered by gardens and native grasses, and situated just above the Cliff Walk at the edge of the bluff, the meadow offers unimpeded views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay, and the Marin Headlands beyond, creating a quintessentially San Francisco experience.
The Cliff Walk sits along the upper edge of the bluff, connecting the western and eastern parts of the site and offering stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay, the native bluff planting, and the Outpost below. Along the Cliff Walk are various overlooks, sculptural seating that evokes the wind-swept pines of the native Presidio landscape, and sheltered areas for protection from the wind and weather. The Cliff Walk follows the edge of the embankment, offering continuous 360-degree panoramic views while connecting to the major overlooks and gathering areas.
The Presidio Steps connect the Cliff Walk to the Outpost below, navigating the elevation change of the steep bluff in a way that allows visitors to fully experience the topography while also stopping and enjoying the view. Generous lawn seating steps give way to an open plaza with a large informal platform, creating a natural series of viewing terraces. On either side of the steps, native bluff planting on gently sculpted mounds protects the area from harsh winds and creates a protective and comfortable environment.
Crissy Field Center Youth Campus
For nearly 18 years, the Crissy Field Center has offered park programs that support academic achievement, environmental literacy, and leadership and career development for young people across the region in a partnership of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Presidio Trust, and National Park Service. The Tunnel Tops project will create an expanded Crissy Field Center Youth Campus and a new Field Station and Outpost. This will dramatically increase the number of young people and families served each year—from 30,000 across our programs to more than 100,000. This expansion will extend our intentional welcome into the parkland and become a great multiplier in strengthening partnerships and magnifying reach and collaboration among organizations serving youth. The Crissy Field Center will be rehabilitated to include two buildings (one renovated and one brand new) with two new labs and classrooms and will become fully accessible and updated to increase program capacity.
The Courtyard is the new heart of the Crissy Youth Campus, bordered by the Field Station, the Learning Labs, and the Crissy Field Center. The Courtyard is a critical amenity for the youth campus, featuring flexible space for events and an outdoor barbeque area with picnic tables and planters. Its design and materials are similar to the Outpost and the two areas are physically connected through the Field Station, signaling the Youth Campus as an extension of the Outpost’s outdoor, learning-focused space.
Adjacent to the nature-rich Outpost and Crissy Field, a new kind of Field Station will be developed where school groups, program attendees, children, families, and all Tunnel Tops visitors can experience exhibits and activities designed to inspire wonder about nature in the Presidio—and in backyards, neighborhoods, and local parks.
The Outpost is a unique child-friendly landscape of multi-sensory and place-based learning, exploration, enquiry, creativity, and physical challenge, immersed in the Presidio’s native habitat. The Outpost features are geared toward a wide variety of play experiences while providing a range of physical challenges, opportunities for learning, free play, and investigation. The play features are structured around the concept of graduated risk – as the child moves through the landscape, the challenges become greater. The types of activities fostered here include climbing, swinging, sliding, crawling, socializing, and observing. There are interactive water features that encourage cooperation between children and allow them to manipulate water directly. Outdoor classrooms provide spaces for the Crissy Field Center programs to hold classes while immersed in the landscape. Children can build, make art, run experiments, grow plants, and investigate the natural and cultural world of the Presidio. Natural and cultural stories are embedded throughout a constellation of rich experiential and recreational spaces that nourish the experience of childhood and grow a lifelong relationship to nature and the outdoors.
The Outpost offers elements suitable for a range of ages, from toddlers to preteens, with some elements and experiences geared towards teens and high school students involved in the youth mentorship programs run by the Crissy Field Center.