The ‘before’ pictures: Berkeley Art Museum/PFA

The old printing plant in downtown that will one day be home to the Berkeley Art Museum. All photos: David Stark Wilson

Call it “beautiful decay”: these stunning photographs, taken by David Stark Wilson, show the interiors of the future home of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA).

Just as with the new Magnes, which unveiled its new space on Sunday, BAM/PFA is to be housed in a 1920s-era 1939 building originally designed as a printing plant for UC Berkeley. It is located at 2120 Oxford Street at Center Street, in the heart of downtown.

Is it not fitting that, as the demand for printed thesis, documents, books and monographs has waned, the engine rooms that produced these volumes are now being put to good use while remaining in the cultural realm?

BAM/PFA revealed it plans for the new building in September 2011 with striking designs by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The museum is now in full fundraising mode and, according to spokesperson Peter Cavagnaro, is making good progress.

“We are building momentum and have raised $80 million of the $100 million we need,” he said.

The photos shown here were taken in 2010, but BAM/PFA director Lawrence Rinder said the building looks pretty much the same now, as no work has been done on its transformation.

David Stark Wilson, who took the photos, runs the Berkeley-based WA Design and has designed many homes and buildings in the Bay Area and beyond. He is also a noted photographer and mountain climber.

Cavagnaro said BAM/PFA hopes to announce when they will break ground on the new museum this spring.

New Berkeley Art Museum mixes old with eye-catching new [09.16.11]
Berkeley Art Museum selects architects for new home [06.24.11]
Berkeley Art Museum seeks architect, again [05.20.11]
UC Berkeley stands by pledge to fund new art museum [11.25.10]
Berkeley Art Museum plans to revamp printing plant [01.27.10]
What might have been [11.24.09]

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  • David

    This is probobly the most exciting, positive event in Berkeley for a generation.

  • Wheelhouse

    This will actually be the new home of BAM/PFA, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, not just BAM. It is one institution and the new building will allow the film programming and art programming to once again  be presented in the same building.

  • Good point, Wheelhouse. We will make that more clear in the story.

  • MarkusBarkus

    Heck–it looks like they’ve already got an exhibit (or two?) there–I like it!  (But I’ll really miss the present space when it’s vacated too…)

  • Anonymous

    There’s a great Art Deco staircase at the entrance.  Can’t wait to see it up close.


  • Charles_Siegel

    “housed in a 1920s-era building originally designed as a printing plant for UC Berkeley.”

    Actually built in 1939

  • Thanks Charles. Good to have eagle-eyed editors at large in our community. We’ll make the fix.