Museum Of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD)

by | 24. Jul 2012

Cultural | Extention/ redesign | Feature

Photo: arcspace


The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) recently celebrated the completion of its new downtown facility.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has expanded its current Downtown campus by creating new exhibition spaces in the Baggage Building of the historic Santa Fe Depot and by adding a new, adjacent three-story structure on the site of the former Railway Express Agency Building.


Photo © David Heald courtesy MCASD



Photo © David Heald courtesy MCASD

The expansion adds 30,000 square feet of museum space, new outdoor exhibition locations and an artist-in-residence studio. Gluckman worked with preservation architect, now California State Preservation Officer, M. Wayne Donaldson on the historic preservation aspects of the project.

The national landmark 1915 baggage building, adjacent to the Santa Fe Depot, features the Spanish Mission-Colonial Revival style with strong Moorish influences. The building was designed by Bakewell & Brown, San Francisco, for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego.


Photo © David Heald courtesy MCASD

The historic exterior is preserved while its lofty interior spaces have been re-purposed for presenting art.

Gluckman Mayner has worked to balance the historic restoration of original finishes and architectural elements, such as the brick and stucco exterior, Spanish clay roof tiles, recreated exterior 16″ globe light fixtures, and refurbished historic wood storefronts with historic glass, with a design that simultaneously communicates the building’s industrial character.

Named in honor of Joan and Irwin Jacobs, the Jacobs Building offers four gallery spaces: Peter C. Farrell Gallery, Pauline and Stanley Foster Gallery, Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery, Melinda Farris Wortz Gallery, and the Robert Caplan Artist-in-Residence Studio.


Photo © David Heald courtesy MCASD


Photo © David Heald courtesy MCASD


Photo © David Heald courtesy MCASD


Photo: arcspace

The Baggage Building’s original steel truss roof system, and high, clerestory windows, stretching the length of the building, remain intentionally exposed, as are new building systems that have been carefully integrated into the existing fabric. The open spaces provide generous, ligh-filled spaces for large sculpture, and installation art.

Currently on view is a fabric room installation created for the space by Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto. Fragment of spices such as lavender, clover, and turmeric have been stuffed into membranes of lycra tulle and suspended throughout the gallery.

The adjacent Copley Building is anchored by a 10-foot concrete base, with a facade of corrugated metal panels, channel glass and aluminum storefront windows.

The design of the new addition is a contemporary response to the historic depot buildings, which were constructed with a concealed steel frame structure encased in masonry walls.  This building system is indirectly referenced in the articulation of the new building’s corrugated steel panel and channel glass enclosure, while the building’s window fenestration clearly expresses the arrangement of spaces within the building.


Photo © David Heald courtesy MCASD


Photo: arcspace

The addition’s exterior color responds to the variegated color of the Baggage Building’s terra-cotta roof tiles, and the corrugated metal panels recall the site’s past, and the materiality of railroad boxcars.


Photo: arcspace

The ground floor accommodates a receiving dock, art handling and a dedicated space for Amtrak’s use; the upper two floors contain a lecture classroom, administrative offices and a conference room with spectacular harbor views.

The Betlach Family Foundation Education Room provides space for public programming and educational activities. The third floor houses a boardroom, as well as curatorial and administrative offices.


Photo © David Heald courtesy MCASD


Photo © David Heald courtesy MCASD

An exterior LED installation by artist Jenny Holzer, with Holzer’s signature truisms scrolling vertically in both Spanish and English along the facade, creates a direct engagement with the broader public.

The trackside arcade along the length of the Baggage Building, which requires full access for pedestrians and rail users, has been used to site a commission, The Santa fe Depot, 2006, by sculptor Richard Serra. The installation consists of 6 boxes, identical in size, of forged weatherdroof steel. This assertive use of public art is another crucial element of an integrated museum complex that has recast a historic setting with a new, forward-looking direction.


Photo: arcspace



Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects First Floor Plan

The expanded MCASD faces the Museum’s existing galleries at 1001 Kettner Blvd., designed by artists Robert Irwin and Richard Fleischner in collaboration with La Jolla-based architect David Raphael Singer.


Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects Second Floor Plan


Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects Third Floor Plan


Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects East Elevation


Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects North Elevation


Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects Section


Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects East Elevation



CITY San Diego, California
ARCHITECT Gluckman Mayner Architects