When the axe fell last year on plans to build a new Toyo Ito designed Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) due to its prohibitive $150m price tag, many of us in the design community were naturally disappointed. But with today’s unveiling of a more modest yet equally powerful proposal by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the public can rest assured that it will get a facility like no other that will engage them in ways the Ito design perhaps would not. That is the special calling of this New York powerhouse of design…to create quirky yet thought-provoking buildings that beckon us in and hold our interest once inside. They do this by making the ordinary appear extraordinary, as they have done here with a few imaginative moves and a restrictive budget.
The design combines an imaginatively repurposed 1939 concrete Art Deco printing plant with a new metal clad forward thinking multipurpose structure. The industrial building - currently a single storey skylit structure with a three storey administrative wing at its east end - will house the museum’s collection and exhibition galleries, a thirty-two seat screening room, learning center, K-12 education areas, as well as a community gallery and offices.
The new building, which will appear to hover above the excavated lower level of the museum building 'will instill a sense of curiosity about the Pacific Film Archive Theatre within' said Lawrence Linder, Director of BAM/PFA. Below the Theatre a lower level will contain the Film Library and Study Center. The building incorporates a series of folds that will drape over the roof of the printing plant building and cut through the eastern end of the sawtooth skylights to create a dramatic connection to Center Street, where they resolve into a double-height atrium and a café that cantilevers over the museum’s entrance. This striking intervention will serve as an architectural spine that unites the two buildings into a single composition.
The new museum complex is slated for completion in 2015. It will house 82,000 sq ft of space and cost an estimated $90m. San Francisco-based EHDD is the architect of record.