Headlands Center for the Arts

Building 960

The rehabilitation and interior redesign of Fort Barry Building 960, completed in February 1999, represents the largest adaptive reuse project in Headlands’ history and continues our tradition of artfully converting historic military buildings for contemporary use.

Artist Leonard Hunter and his crew of artists/craftsmen, in collaboration with architect Mark Cavagnero, dramatically transformed Building 960’s interior to accommodate writers and visual and interdisciplinary artists, while the building’s historic structure and exterior have been accurately restored. The interior features intricate custom metalwork and a strong contextual reference to the surrounding landscape. New exterior siding and a fresh coat of paint artfully conceal the extensive structural work and the new plywood frame applied by a professional contractor—choices that both satisfied seismic code regulations and freed the lead designers from having to alter the building’s historic wood-frame interior, giving them full artistic license in the redesign.

Like the earlier, much-admired commissioned renovations in Headlands’ Building 944—led by renowned artists David Ireland and Ann Hamilton, designers Bruce Tomb and John Randolph, and architect Mark Mack—the rehabilitation of Building 960 was carried out by a crew comprised largely of artists and was guided by a commitment to honor the site’s rich military history and the beauty of the natural environment. In fact, the National Park Service mandated that the renovations take place in such a way that at any time the building could be brought back to its original state. Hunter and Cavagnero built impressive walls and a staircase using a bolting system that can be dismantled at a moment’s notice.

Fort Barry Building 960 is a three-level, wood frame, 11,800-square-foot former U.S. Army Quartermaster building that sat vacant for decades until late spring 1998. Headlands acquired Buildings 960, 961 and 962—together known as “the Three Sisters”—in 1994, when it signed a 20-year lease agreement with the National Park Service. The agreement calls for renovation and code compliance of all nine Headlands’ buildings in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and was also the impetus to vacate three buildings at Fort Cronkhite beside Rodeo Beach that had formerly housed the Affiliate Artist program.

Building 960 now houses Headlands’ Affiliate Artist Program—a subsidized studio rental program for local artists working in a range of disciplines—as well as three studios for Artists in Residence. The Affiliate Program provides approximately 20 local artists with a place for self-directed investigation and an opportunity to engage with the 30+ local, national, and international Artists in Residence who live on-site each year.