The Golden Gate Bridge was still under construction when the Merchant Marine Hospital was built at the southern edge of the Presidio in 1932. In the 1950s it got two additional wings tacked onto the facade.
It was closed in 1981 and fell into disrepair, but now it's been restored. The facade has been meticulously rehabilitated, hospital rooms replaced with luxury apartments and it's aptly named the Presidio Landmark.
"I thought well, there's a lot of potential here but it's going to take a lot of work," architect Andrew Wolfram said.
Wolfram is with Perkins and Will, the firm chosen by the Presidio Trust to preserve the historic building, while at the same time transforming it into a modern apartment building located in a national park.
"The building is now connected to hiking trails, biking trails, there's a trail to the beach. So it really is an integral part of the park," he said.
"It also represents a rebirth of this whole southern section of the Presidio," Presidio Trust Executive Director Craig Middleton said.
The hospital's third floor sunroom is now the living room of a one-bedroom unit with a view down 15th Street.
There are 154 units in the 220,000 square foot building, ranging in size from junior one-bedrooms to two-bedrooms. Prices go from $2,100 to $4,300 a month. That's revenue to help the Presidio remain self-sufficient when it's federal funding runs out in 2013.
Middleton says 95 percent of their revenue comes from leases.
"When you preserve historic buildings, the best thing to do with them is re-use them. When you re-use them you can lease them, and generate revenue. It works very well with the Presidio," he said.
Kevin Kilduff was treated for broken bones here when he was a merchant marine in 1978.
"I think it's nice that they were able to do something with the old building instead of tearing it down," he said.
About 40 units will be available at the end of the month with the first move-ins expected in August.