California dreamless

Sharon McHugh
Saturday 21 Nov 2009

Plans for Ito designed Berkeley Art Museum scuttled

The University of California, Berkeley has announced this week that it is scuttling plans for a new $200 million facility to house the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), designed by Toyo Ito. The reason given for the decision was an unrealistic campaign goal given the current economic market. While the Ito project has been scraped, a new museum is very much on the front burner and plans for it could be announced as soon as January.

Plans for the Ito-designed museum started to unravel in the spring, when it became clear the funds were not there to build the building. "We set benchmark goals for the project last spring and we fell short of those benchmarks”, said Lawrence Rinder, Director of the BAM/PFA which is one of the largest university art museums in the United Sates in both size and attendance. “We raised $81 million from the giving community but the gap of where we were at and where we needed to be to go forward was just too great”, he said.

"Building a new museum is a matter of urgency as BAM's current facility sits in a seismic zone which was declared unsafe more than a decade ago. The first step is to determine a more realistic campaign goal”, said Rinder. While he did not say how the University would move forward or with whom, Rinder did say they are committed to building a remarkable facility in the downtown. One possibility would be to design a building that could be added onto in the future, either on the same footprint or an adjacent site.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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