Opinion

Time for Another Major Re-work in Balboa Park

Time for Another Major Re-work in Balboa Park

 

The much-discussed Plaza de Panama project has as one of its main features the addition of a large multi-story parking project near the Organ Pavilion. I’ve been a supporter of the proposal, with major funding from Irwin and Joan Jacobs. While we’re undertaking this project, here’s something nearby that the time has come for some serious review.

This is the Starlight Musical Theatre, which also extends several stories downward into a park canyon. After several decades of running musicals, Starlight has had no shows the last two summers. Here it sits, in prime park location, with no current use and perhaps none ahead. Here are a couple of possible options for this venue and space:

• One of the major problems, long a source of audience amusement (and irritation), is when the airplanes swoop low as they’re landing at Lindbergh Field. The conductor flashes the “freeze” signal, with music stopping and actors going into a hold position. When the plane’s noise goes down, the conductor signals again and the show resumes. This would seem to be a most undesirable location for an open-air musical performance. If this survives for musicals, my suggestion is to install a roof over the open arena, cutting out the aircraft interruptions.

• Alternatively, it looks like that space might make a good choice, totally redesigned, as a multi-story parking garage (similar to the Plaza de Panama plan). The space at the top could either have a different building (museum?) placed atop the parking structure, or, as will be done with the Panama project, covered over with green space for park ambling, picnics, entertainment, events, etc. Entry and exit would be off President’s Way and onto Park Boulevard.

What thinkest thou?

Tom Leech is author of Outdoors San Diego: Hiking, Biking & Camping.


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Tom Leech

Tom Leech
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14 comments
Tom Leech
Tom Leech subscriber

So Mr. Architect. What is your proposal for continued use of this "historic" WPA structure? It's just been sitting there, with no use, the last couple years. Whether historic or not, if a structure's use is kaput, maybe it's time to look at options. And my suggestion is tied to a major-league discussion going on right now, related to getting cars off Balboa Park's Prado. Can I assume you oppose the Panama Plaza plan, as many do, since it does change (slightly) the look across the truly classic Laurel Street bridge? I'm open to your suggestions (doesn't mean I'll like them).

TomLeech
TomLeech

So Mr. Architect. What is your proposal for continued use of this "historic" WPA structure? It's just been sitting there, with no use, the last couple years. Whether historic or not, if a structure's use is kaput, maybe it's time to look at options. And my suggestion is tied to a major-league discussion going on right now, related to getting cars off Balboa Park's Prado. Can I assume you oppose the Panama Plaza plan, as many do, since it does change (slightly) the look across the truly classic Laurel Street bridge? I'm open to your suggestions (doesn't mean I'll like them).

john eisenhart
john eisenhart subscriber

Always amazing to see a preservationist of natural environments think they have a clue in the discussion of architecture , specifically a historic designated building. The Starlight Bowl is a classic W.P.A. structure that was invaded by a non-native species (jet planes) So your solution is to terminate the native species in favor of a non-native one because you do not want to walk a few extra blocks? Do you have a creditable left with reasoning like this? Pleaeeeeee.

mr architect
mr architect

Always amazing to see a preservationist of natural environments think they have a clue in the discussion of architecture , specifically a historic designated building. The Starlight Bowl is a classic W.P.A. structure that was invaded by a non-native species (jet planes) So your solution is to terminate the native species in favor of a non-native one because you do not want to walk a few extra blocks? Do you have a creditable left with reasoning like this? Pleaeeeeee.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

Myearth, above... says it concisely and says it all.! ! !

Activist
Activist

Myearth, above... says it concisely and says it all.! ! !

Tom Leech
Tom Leech subscriber

The new side road across the Laurel St. Bridge has signifant opposition will see much more study before it's set. My approach would have many more cars entering from Park Blvd. and this might be an option to provide them more parking, and right near one of the most popular Balboa Park areas (have you tried parking near the Auto and Air & Space Museums on a Sunday afternoon lately?).

TomLeech
TomLeech

The new side road across the Laurel St. Bridge has signifant opposition will see much more study before it's set. My approach would have many more cars entering from Park Blvd. and this might be an option to provide them more parking, and right near one of the most popular Balboa Park areas (have you tried parking near the Auto and Air & Space Museums on a Sunday afternoon lately?).

Janet Shelton
Janet Shelton subscriber

I think we need to focus on maintaining the structures we have, not building more. And especially not building more when they degrade important historic features of the top. Even if the bridge were not historic, it would still be wrong to lose the beautiful scene with the ugly bypass bridge. Let's not pave paradise to put up parking garage(s).

myearth
myearth

I think we need to focus on maintaining the structures we have, not building more. And especially not building more when they degrade important historic features of the top. Even if the bridge were not historic, it would still be wrong to lose the beautiful scene with the ugly bypass bridge. Let's not pave paradise to put up parking garage(s).

Kevin Swanson
Kevin Swanson subscriber

Bulldoze Balboa Park for automobiles? Certainly NOT in the National Historic Landmark District! Think of the future, and consider alternatives such as proposed with San Diego 2015.

SanDiego2015
SanDiego2015

Bulldoze Balboa Park for automobiles? Certainly NOT in the National Historic Landmark District! Think of the future, and consider alternatives such as proposed with San Diego 2015.

Jim Neri
Jim Neri subscribermember

too pragmatic. putting a parking structure in place of the the "Flightpath Theater" will only encourage people to visit the park.

Jimmer
Jimmer

too pragmatic. putting a parking structure in place of the the "Flightpath Theater" will only encourage people to visit the park.