Libeskind breathes new life into San Francisco

Tuesday 02 Oct 2007

The Contemporary Jewish Museum finds a new home

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) announced that major conservation work on the 1907 Jessie Street Power Substation is complete and has removed the scaffolding from the exterior of the building’s South wall, making its original terra cotta fixtures and masonry visible to the public.

Under the creative direction of architect Daniel Libeskind, the CJM’s new home is an adaptive reuse of the landmark substation, which helped restore energy to San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Inspired by the Hebrew phrase “l’chaim” (to life), Libeskind’s dynamic, contemporary design makes visible the relationship between the old and the new by incorporating the substation’s character defining features. The Museum is also working with Architectural Resources Group, an organization widely recognized for its significant expertise with historic building projects, to ensure that the integrity of the substation is preserved.

Constructed in 1881, the historic brick and terra cotta structure was remodeled by architect Willis Polk in 1907 after the 1906 fires. As part of the City Beautiful Movement, which sought to “beautify” urban industrial buildings, the substation was designed with neo-Classical elements, such as a towering, arched doorway, intricate cornice, and four cream-colored cherubs with garlands made of matte-glazed terra cotta, all of which have been carefully cleaned, patched and sealed to prevent further damage. Renovation on the substation’s other character defining features, including the interior surface of the South Wall, the towering sky lights, and historic crane and catwalk continues.

The new 63,000-square-foot facility, located on Mission Street between 3rd & 4th streets in downtown San Francisco, will enable the Museum to present an expanded array of engaging programming including art exhibitions, live music, film screenings, lectures and discussions, and educational activities for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. At the heart of the new facility is a large education center, which will allow the CJM to offer ongoing educational programs in conjunction with its exhibitions for youth, adults, and seniors.

Key Facts:

United States
Civic Buildings

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team