Architects renovate and expand museum using sustainable design
Originally designed by Pulitzer‐winning architect, Kevin Roche and renowned landscape architect, Dan Kiley, the Oakland Museum is an icon of mid‐century modernism. Roche's design united Oakland's collections of art, history, and natural sciences under one roof, which had previously been housed in different museums across the city. Inspired by the vision of OMCA as a "museum for the people," Roche designed a community gathering place, with terraced gardens, a central courtyard, walkways, koi pond, and outdoor sculpture courts that continue to provide an urban park for Oakland residents and visitors. Dan Kiley designed the multi‐level rooftop gardens and surrounding arboretum to complement the structure's modernist geometry. The building is an acknowledged masterpiece of civic architecture and is recognized as one of the most significant examples of post‐World War II modernism in America.
Since its opening in 1969, this masterwork has been considered unique in its handling of the vast 7.7 acre site. While each of the three subjects are exhibited in their own galleries, all galleries reside within a terraced park setting that is at once both building and landscape, and museum and urban park. The galleries are organised on three levels in an ascending stepped sequence where the roofs become terraces, allowing each gallery to flow out into the adjacent garden. Each level is accessed by an open central stairway that connects the museum's multiple galleries. Seen from above, the entire building becomes one collective green space that blurs the line between indoor and outdoor space.
While the conceptual vision of the building remained strong, there were inherent functional challenges resulting from the museum's growth over the years. In 1999, a detailed space needs assessment and master plan was completed with the first expansion phase being completed in 2001 - the addition of education offices and new children's art education classrooms. Completed in 2010, Phase 2 includes 94,000 square feet of renovated gallery spaces; 5,200 square feet of new exhibition space; improvements to the restaurant to accommodate a new café; new ticketing positions; relocation and expansion of the museum store; and a renovated 280‐seat auditorium.
Two new gallery enclosures accommodate large scale art works previously not exhibited within the museum; the enclosures are supported by a lightweight steel structure that lifts above the space complementing the existing concrete building. Clerestory glass wraps the new galleries allowing diffused natural daylight to fill the space. Unique to the recent work, is a new 90‐foot stainless steel entry canopy that extends out to Oak Street in order to create a more visible and inviting and main entrance. The steel's soft, luminous quality differentiates itself from the original concrete structure, thus giving the entrance a clear presence and distinction. The lightweight canopy floats above the museum's central stairway and sensitively frames views into the museum landscape while providing covered, welcoming circulation to each of the galleries.
The renovation and expansion of this prominent museum is designed with sustainability as a core value and achieves LEED Silver certification under USGBC's LEED‐NC programme. The project approach is one of restraint in finding ways to do more with less and finding optimized solutions to achieve the overall goals of the project. Key sustainability features include: the re‐use of the entire building structure with new additions to enhance the use of existing spaces; use of diffused daylight throughout to offset the need for artificial lighting; an energy efficient mechanical system augmented by the use of high performance glazing; water‐use reduction through the installation of low‐flow plumbing fixtures; and the restoration of the building's original green roof.The Oakland Museum of California is a City of Oakland landmark and the project has been executed in compliance with the City's landmark ordinance as well as the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties. The design approach is one of restraint ‐‐ finding ways to do more with less and finding optimized solutions to achieve the overall goals of the project. This approach is consistent with the primary goal of the project-to preserve the historic structure with minimal modifications. All new architectural elements are designed to complement the existing building while clearly distinguishing itself from the original structure. Lightweight steel elements are used to visually counter the existing historic concrete walls while creating a cohesive home for the Museum's future.
"As the ‘museum of California,' we are moving toward a more participatory exhibition model that encourages visitor engagement and feedback. Just as California is not a ‘fixed' place but constantly evolving, this museum is embracing change and openness to new ideas. It's in our DNA." ‐ Lori Fogarty, Executive Director of the Oakland Museum of California
The renovation and expansion of the museum further organises the collections of art, history, and natural sciences under one roof to tell the extraordinary stories of California and its people. The improvements create a more dynamic exhibition environment, achieve greater integration of its collections, and present the multilayered story of California and its people from a variety of perspectives-reflecting the diversity of California's population. Visitors will find multiple entry points into the state's past, learn about the natural, artistic, and social forces that continue to shape it, and investigate their own role in the making of history. The new stainless steel canopy over the Oak Street entrance will enhance the museum's street presence and invite visitors in to explore the museum and its grounds.
The museum's revitalization builds on the founders' original multidisciplinary and civic‐minded intent by improving integration of the Museum's collections and programmes, strengthening its role as a public forum, and creating new opportunities for visitor participation. The new galleries will weave together chronological and theme‐based installations to explore different notions of California identity and reality. The collections will be animated by innovative interpretive tools and interactive features, and new gathering spaces and programme areas will engage visitors and encourage them to share their own perspectives, questions, and stories.
The renovation and expansion of this prominent museum is designed with sustainability as a core value and achieves LEED Silver certification with the U.S. Green Building Council. The design approach is one of restraint - finding ways to do more with less and finding optimized solutions to achieve the overall goals of the project. Sustainability features include the following:
•Re-use of the entire building structure with new additions to enhance the use of existing spaces.
•Use of diffuse daylight throughout to offset the need for artificial lighting.
•Centrally located near downtown area with ready access to public transportation.
•Promotion of alternative modes of transportation with readily available parking for bicycles and low emission/fuel efficient vehicles.
•Energy efficient mechanical system augmented by the use of high performance glazing.
•Water use reduction through the installation of low-flow plumbing fixtures.
•Protection of the night sky through the use of appropriate exterior site lighting.
•Use of materials high in recycled content and low in VOC’s.
•Maintaining and restoring the viability of the buildings original green roof.
•Use of educational exhibits to promote the values of sustainability.