Plans for a new visual arts facility for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) were initiated following a 1997 survey that found that the museum’s existing concrete structure did not meet current seismic standards.
The new building will be approximately forty percent larger than the existing one, with nearly twenty percent more exhibition space, an additional theater, and considerably expanded and improved public research facilities.
The highly innovative, curvilinear structure, will give both the university and the city of Berkeley an exciting signature museum building.
|Toyo Ito’s concept design gives us a building superbly designed, creatively engineered, welcoming, and of the highest aesthetic order. It will be an icon for the entire Bay Area.|
|/UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau|
The complex will be located in an area where the UC Berkeley campus meets the city, at the northwest corner of Oxford and Center Streets. The site is close to the BART rail system and other public transportation, and is in the city of Berkeley’s vibrant arts district, which encompasses such organizations as the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Jazz school, and the Aurora Theater Company.
Ito’s design calls for a three-story building with an unexpectedly fluid steel exterior that curves to meet dramatic, towering windows. The interior will comprise a loose grid of interlocking spaces with gently curved walls that wind and bend throughout the structure. In places, the gallery walls will part, as if pulled aside like curtains, to allow passage between the varied exhibition areas.
The museum’s first floor will house the two theaters; five exhibition galleries, one of which, the MATRIX gallery, will be open to the public without charge; the museum store and café, opening onto Center Street; and other visitor amenities.
The second floor will include eight galleries, a screening room, the Conceptual Art Study Center, a learning center, and a library.
In addition, three of the museum’s second-floor galleries will have ancillary “vista spaces,” two looking east to Oxford Street and the Berkeley campus, the third overlooking Center Street.
The top floor, with seven galleries, will be dedicated to works on paper and to the museums celebrated Asian art collection, and will include an Asian garden gallery.
With a plaza-like extension of Center Street, a largely transparent ground-floor facade that invites exploration of the museum within, and a large, multi-purpose interior forum, the building offers rich opportunities for interactions with the diverse population and institutions of the neighborhood and UC Berkeley community.
The design has been created with sensitivity to the scale and fabric of the surrounding neighborhood, while also offering a distinctive architectural addition to it.
In an example of Ito’s renowned ability to balance design innovation with state-of-the-art engineering, all galleries and theaters will be equipped with the most up-to-date, flexible technologies, making them capable of accommodating evolving art forms and on-site research. Additionally, the new museum building is targeted to achieve at minimum a LEED silver certification, which will make it one of the most environmentally sustainable museum buildings in the country