Berkeley Art Museum selects architects for new home

Future site of BAM-PFA. White building is former printing plant. Photo: UC Berkeley.

The Berkeley Art Museum-Pacific Film Archive has chosen New York architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design its new building in downtown Berkeley. The announcement follows a nationwide search which saw ten architecture firms considered for the project.

DS+R is tasked with transforming the former University of California printing plant at Center and Oxford streets in downtown Berkeley for BAM/PFA, after the museum decided to abandon plans to create a building from scratch. In 2006, the museum selected architect Toyo Ito to design a new building for them, but the Japanese architect’s proposal proved expensive and funding did not materialize.

The museum’s current home on Bancroft Way, designed in 1970 by Mario Ciampi, has a multitude of seismic issues.

“DS+R’s experience integrating architecture with issues of contemporary culture and civic life perfectly aligned with BAM/PFA’s core mission to ignite critical dialog and to inspire the imagination through art and film,” said BAM/PFA’s director Lawrence Rinder


Charles Renfro, Ricardo Scofidio and Elizabeth Diller of DS+R. Photo: Abelardo Morrell .

At the downtown site, DS+R will renovate the existing 48,000-square-foot moderne-style printing plant and add a new building covering 50,000 square feet along Oxford Street, just outside the boundaries of the university campus. The museum hopes to open the new complex in 2014. It will be just one block away from the new home of the Magnes Museum, set to open in 2011.

DS+R, whose principals are Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro, has extensive experience in museum design. It is currently working on New York’s  Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, it designed Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, was responsible for the redesign of the Alice Tully Hall and, last year, collaborated with James Corner Field Operations to complete New York’s High Line, an urban park on a 1.5-mile stretch of elevated railway in Chelsea.

The budget for the new downtown museum is $95 million, nearly half of which has been raised. Funds will come from private sources and are being raised by BAM/PFA in partnership with the campus.