Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive unveil concept design for new Ito-designed building
The University of California at Berkeley has a tradition of being both innovative and experimental. So when it came to selecting an architect for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), it did not depart from that tradition. After considering 220 internationally based firms and short-listing four, UC Berkeley selected Tokyo-based Toyo Ito and Associates to design its new building. The project will be the first in the United States by Ito, who has designed numerous buildings in Japan and around the globe including the highly acclaimed Sendai Mediateque, in Sendai, Japan.
Ito’s design calls for a three-storey building with an unexpectedly fluid steel exterior that curves to meet dramatic, towering windows. The 139,000 sq ft interior will comprise a loose grid of interlocking spaces with gently curve walls that wind and bend throughout the structure. In places, the gallery walls will separate as if pulled aside like curtains, to allow passage between the varied exhibition areas.
The museum’s first floor will house two theatres, five exhibition galleries, a museum store and cafe. The second floor will include eight galleries, a screening room, the Conceptual Art Study Center, a learning center, and a library. On the top floor will be seven galleries dedicated to works on paper and the BAM/PFA’s celebrated Asian art collection. This floor will include an Asian garden gallery.
Ito’s design is a welcome departure from the traditional campus buildings. With its largely transparent ground floor façade that invites exploration of the museum within and a large multi-purpose interior forum, the building offers opportunities for rich interactions with the diverse population and institutions that comprise the UC Berkeley community.
Harrison Fraker, Dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, said, “ I can’t imagine a University having the ambition of being the best in the world without it having the best museum and film archive in the world.”
The final design for the museum is expected to be complete at the end of 2009 and the museum anticipates that the building will open in 2003.