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PlazaBP NPS Letter

PlazaBP NPS Letter

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Published by Ken
A letter from The National Park Service to the City of San Diego about the Plaza de Panama bypass bridge. It was sent to the city two months before the City Council passed the controversial Jacobs plan.
A letter from The National Park Service to the City of San Diego about the Plaza de Panama bypass bridge. It was sent to the city two months before the City Council passed the controversial Jacobs plan.

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: Ken on Jul 12, 2012
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11/04/2014

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IJnitedStatesDepartmentofthe
Interior
NATIONALPARKSERVICE
1849CStreet,N.W.Washington,D.C.20240
INREPLYREFERTO:
H32(2280)Mr.KevinFaulconerCouncilPresidentProTernCityAdministrationBuilding202CStreetSanDiego,California92101
"MAY-2
?012
DearMr.Faulconer:TheNationalParkService(NPS)isdelegatedmonitoringandtechnicalassistanceresponsibilitiesbyCongresstoensurethatNationalHistoricLandmarks(NHL)retainthehighestlevelofintegrity.OurresponsibilitiesincludereviewandformalcommentonindividualproposedactionswithinNHL,aswellasthecumulativeeffectofchangesthroughtimeonNHLproperties.
It
isinthiscapacity,andattherequestoftheCaliforniaStateHistoricPreservationOfficer,thatwearewritingtoofferourassessmentandcommentsontheproposedBalboaParkPlazadePanamaProjectproposedwithintheBalboaParkNationalHistoricLandmark.OurevaluationisbasedoninformationprovidedintheCityofSanDiego'scompliancedocumentsandreports,aswellasasitevisitconductedbyNPSNationalHistoricLandmarkProgramstaff,PacificWestRegionalOffice,inSanFrancisco.
It
isourunderstandingthatthemajorcomponentsoftheproposedprojectincludeconstructionofanelevatedcurvedbypassbridgethatwouldintersectCabrilloBridgejustwestoftheentrypointintothePlazadeCaliforniaandacrossfromtheAdministrationBuilding,constructionofapartiallysubterranean790-space,multi-levelparkingstructurethatwouldbelocatedsouthwestoftheSprecklesOrganPavilion,alterationstoexistingvehicularpathways,andrehabilitationofthePlazadePanama.TheNPSfindsthattheProjectwillhaveapermanent,majorandadverseeffectontheintegrityoftheBalboaParkNationalHistoricLandmark.TheProjectisnotconsistentwiththeSecretaryoftheInterior
StandardsfortheTreatmentofHistoricProperties(Standards)
andapplicableguidelines.TheProjectwillphysicallydestroyapartoftheNHLproperty,andtheProjectwillintroducevisualelementsandspatialchangesthatwilldiminishtheintegrityoftheproperty'shistoricfeatures.Inadditiontotheaboveconcerns,webelievethatsomeelementsoftheproposedrehabilitationhavethepotentialtocreateafalsesenseofhistory.TheNPSrecommendsandbelievesthatalessaggressive,morebalancedapproachcanbeachieved,whichwouldalsosuccessfullyfulfilltheoverarchinggoalofamelioratingpedestrianandvehicularconflicts,whileensuringthehighestleveloftheproperty'shistoricintegrityisretained.Theremainderofourcommentswillfurtherelaboratesomespecificsofourevaluation.
 
2
BalboaParkwasdesignatedaNationalHistoricLandmarkonDecember22,1977,fortheplanning,architecture,andlandscapearchitecturethatwereinitiallycreatedforthe1915PanamaCaliforniaInternationalExposition,andwerelaterrevitalizedforthe1935California-PacificInternationalExposition.TheNHLdocumentationforBalboaParkNHLcharacterizesthepropertyas"...theculturalcenterofSanDiegoaswellasbeingabeautifullydesignedurbanarea-oneofthebestplannedandlandscapedinAmerica.ThebuildingsaresomeofthefinestSpanishBaroquerevivalarchitectureextant."(1977,StatementofSignificance,BalboaParkNHLdocument.)Thelandsthatweredevelopedtosupporttheexpositionswerepartofalarger1,400acreareaofcity-owned,undevelopedlandsthatweresetasideforapark.Thedevelopmentofamasterplanforwhatwasthenknownas"CityPark"commencedin1902.Theplanwasfinalizedin1905.However,itwasthedesireofthecity'sChamberofCommercetohostanexpositioncommemoratingcompletionofthePanamaCanalthatsetinmotiontheplanning,design,constructionandtherenamingofthepark,whichisreflectedintheBalboaParkNHL.WhilethedecisiontolocatetheexpositiononthetopoftheCentralMesaportionoftheParkwasnotmetwithenthusiasmbyall,the
HistoricResourcesTechnicalReport
preparedbyVerPlanckHistoricPreservationConsultingfortheProjectillustrateshowthetopographyofthesitegreatlyinformedtheoverallspatialdesignofthecomplex,inparticulartheformalentrypointacrossCabrilloBridgeandtheoverallformoftheCaliforniaQuadrangle.TheTechnicalReportstatesthatwhiletheleadarchitectfortheexpositioninitiallywasopposedtothefinallocation,thearchitect"...grewtoappreciatethatthemesa'sgreatheightinrelationtoCabrilloCanyonwouldallowfordramaticarchitecturaleffects,especiallyifthegroundswereaccessedfromthewestbyabridgeoverCabrilloCanyon."(TechnicalReport,39)TheTechnicalReportalsostatesthatthearchitect,whowas"clearlytakingadvantageofthecanyonsidesite,allowedtheformoftheCaliforniaQuadrangletocascadedowntheslopesofthecanyonasaseriesofgeometricforms."(TechnicalReport;41)SeveralhistoricphotosincludedinthedocumentationfortheProjectnicelyillustratethecharacter-definingbuildingmassandlinearaccessviatheCabrilloBridge.TheReportgoesontosay,"Probablybecauseofthisarchitecturaldrama,theviewfromtheWestMesa,lookingnortheastanduphiHtowardtheCaliforniaQuadrangle,becamethemostimportantviewofthePanama-CaliforniaExposition.This'iconicview'wasreproducedonhundredsofpostcards,publicitymaterials,andallsortsofsouvenirs."(TechnicalReport,132)TheCabrilloBridgestretchesacrossthecanyonandcreatesasingularaxialapproachandprocessionalpathofentryintothecomplex.TheTechnicalReportdefinesthemajoraxisorspineoftheDistrictas
El
Prado.TheCabrilloBridgeisasignificantimportantformalpartofthisaxisintheoveralldesignoftheproperty.
It
providesthedramaticapproachthatisrelievedthroughpassageintothePlazadeCalifornia.TheauthoroftheNHLnominationforBalboaParkopensthedescriptivenarrativeforthepropertywithadescriptionofthischaracter,furtherdefiningtheformalentrysequence:
 
3
"TheentrancewasapproachedacrossalongbridgeacrossacanyonuptowhatappearstobeafortifiedEuropeantown-theCaliforniaandFineArtsbuildingdominatetheview.InsidethegroundstheexpositionwaslaidoutalongthemajoraxisofElPradowiththeminoraxisofthePlazadePanamaintersectingit.TheCaliforniaQuadrangleprovidedaprimaryopenspaceattheentry,andsmallcourtsandvistasintocourtyardswithreflectingpools,whichbreaktheforceofthemainaxis."TheProposedCentennialBridgedestroysthisprocessionbyintroducingamajorreliefpointalongthepathwaybeforeentranceintotheCaliforniaQuadrangleandbydivertingthepathofentryviatheproposedbridgebypass.ThenewlyproposedbridgealsowouldintroduceanincompatiblevisualintrusionintothesettingoftheNHLthatwouldforeverdestroythehistoric"iconicview"mentionedintheTechnicalReport.AstheTechnicalReportpointsout,currentlythishistoricviewisobscuredbyvegetationinthecanyon.TheNPSbelievesthatthisandperhapsotherhistoricviewscouldberestoredthroughawell-informedandwell-executedvegetationmanagementplan.Thevehicularaccess/pathwaythatwouldbeestablishedbytheproposedbridgebypasscontinuesthroughthehistoricdistrictprovidingaccesstotheproposedparkingstructure,andwillresultinchangestothecirculationpatternbetweenthePlazadePanamaareaandPalisades.ThesechangesaddtothecumulativeimpactoftheProjectontheNHLDistrict.TheproposedrehabilitationofthePlazadePanamaincludestheconstructionoftwoshallowreflectingpools.TheTechnicalReportnotesthatthesestructureswouldresemblesimilarfeaturesinstalledforthe1935CaliforniaPacificExposition.Asstated,thissuggeststhatthepoolswouldbeconjecturalandnotreconstructionsofthe1935pools,whichcouldcreateafalsesenseofhistoryandwouldbeinconsistentwiththe
Secretarya/theInteriorStandards.
Isthereenoughdocumentaryinformationtoreconstructoneorbothpoolsifthereisadesiretore-establishthis/thesefeature(s)?SixobjectivesfortheProjectarelistedintheEnvironmentalImpactReport(EIR);however,allofthesegoalsfallundertwobroadergoals-toeliminatevehicletrafficinthecoreoftheNHLD,andtoconstructaCentennialBridgeandRoad-andoneoverarehinggoalto"rehabilitatePlazadePanamaconsistentwiththeoriginalvisionofaceremonialplazaandgatheringspace."OneimportantobjectivemissingfromthelistisensuringthatthehistoricintegrityofBalboaParkNHLisretained.TheNPSbelievesthatthereareviable,lesscostlyalternativesthatwouldreduceoreliminateprivatevehiculartrafficfromthecorewithoutthesignificantimpactstotheintegrityoftheNHLDthatwouldresultfromtheProject.TheNPSalsoquestionswhethercompleteremovalofvehiculartrafficisrealisticandwhetherremovalofalltrafficiseveninkeepingwithhistoricpatternsofuse.HistoricphotographstakenduringthetimeofthetwoexpositionsthatwereincludedintheTechnicalReportandtheCentennialBridgePhotographicSurveyshowthatwhilemostvisitorswithinthehistoriccorewereonfoot,sometraveledaboutinsmall2-personcartsatleastalongtheEIPradoandCabrilloBridge.CabrilloBridgewasclearlyconstructedasaroadwaywith

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