James O. Gibson, the District of Columbia's planning chief during Mayor Marion Barry's first term, was chosen yesterday to be president of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation.

As planning director, Gibson shepherded construction of the new D.C. Convention Center and oversaw the drafting of a proposed comprehensive land-use plan for the city, which has been the subject of recent public hearings.

An aide said Gibson has discussed his new post with Barry, whom he has served as assistant city administrator for planning and development since the post was created in 1979. He will take over the foundation's presidency on Jan. 3.

The foundation, established in 1944 by the late Eugene Meyer, then publisher of The Washington Post, and his wife, makes grants for charitable, scientific and educational purposes in the Washington area.

Charles C. Glover III, chairman of the foundation's board of trustees, said Gibson will replace James L. Kunen, who is retiring after 20 years and will remain as a consultant.

Gibson, a native of Atlanta who received his undergraduate degree at Duquesne University and also studied at the University of Atlanta and Temple University, has been active in numerous urban affairs and race relations organizations. He first gained prominence in Washington as a member of the National Capital Planning Commission, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Barry, in preparation for his second term, has asked for and presumably received resignations from all his appointees, including Gibson. Department of Finance and Revenue director Carolyn L. Smith, Department of Housing and Community Development director Robert L. Moore and Department of Human Services director James A. Buford have already left the city government or announced their intention to leave.