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  /  Focus Projects   /  Stainless steel façade for California museum

Stainless steel façade for California museum

New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro has designed the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Fim Archive in California, which was to expand and integrate the University of California at the Berkeley Press Building for two institutions.

The design capitalizes the existing historic building spread over 4,800 sq. m., which was repurposed to house galleries, a small theatre, an art-making laboratory and other amenities. The structure has an extension spread over 3,500 sq. m., including a film theatre, library, study center and café. Nicknamed the ‘Cipher’, the addition creates a new public space that organizes the building.

The lateral structure features a stainless-steel form along a long diagonal, which rises to provide a glimpse of the inside on its long façade. Next, it  extends across to the café at the entrance in a cantilevered fashion – also doubling as a marquee. At the other end, the volume ends as an outdoor viewing screen or an indoor theatre for the public. The sculptural form of the theatre volume reinterprets the 1930s Art Deco style of the press building, now given a contemporary form with ruled surfaces and precision-formed stainless steel.

Existing fenestrations in the original press building at the ground level were expanded and retrofitted, which enabled the galleries to be on full display. Also, the sidewalk and street activity permeate the interiors. Renowned wood joinery craftsman Paul Discoe designed several of the key interior elements, such as the admission desk and store shelving, using wood from the Canary Island Pines that were removed from the site prior to construction.

Windows along the Centre Street façade of the former printing press building were enlarged, allowing passers-by to see the Art Wall, a 60×25-ft. interior surface overlooking the multi-level performance space. BAMPFA plans to commission global artists to create temporary murals on the wall twice a year.