Before new Berkeley art museum can rise, a demolition

A UC Berkeley parking garage at Oxford and Addison is being torn down as part of the construction of a new BAM/PFA. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Major demolition is under way in downtown Berkeley on the site of the new location for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

The UC Berkeley-owned parking lot at 2150 Addison Street, on the corner of Oxford Street, is being torn down, and several large trees have been removed, to clear the ground for construction.

The UC Berkeley-owned museum is creating a new home, designed by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, from a 1930s former printing plant owned by the university. The new BMA/PFA is slated to open in the summer of 2016, bringing more bold contemporary architecture into the heart of Berkeley.


BAM/PFA needed to raise $100 million for the project which it has been planning since 1997 when it was found that its current building on Bancroft Way — built in 1970 and designed by Mario Ciampi — did not meet present-day seismic standards.

The last major demolition site in downtown Berkeley was also Cal-related. The old Department of Health Services building at 2151 Berkeley Way was brought down three years ago to allow for the construction of UC Berkeley’s Biosciences Energy building, which this month won a design excellence award.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s plans for BAM/PFA include  a sculptural zinc-clad armature that will stretch across the museum from Center St. to Addison, and a café which will project out of the main structure over the museum’s Center St. entrance.

DSC_0043 DSC_0037

A rendering of the design for the Oxford-Addison corner of the new BAM/PFA by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Image courtesy: BAM/PFA

Local business groups have expressed concern about how the loss of the University Hall parking lot, which held 234 cars, will impact parking downtown. In addition to that loss, UC is planning to build a new aquatics center on the site of a 230-space parking lot next to the Tang Center at 2222 Bancroft Way, not far from Oxford.

UC has rented 50 spaces in the Chase Building for staff and faculty to use, according to Seamus Wilmot, director of parking and transportation. It has added stacked parking to the Ellsworth lot. The Allston Way garage is also offering discounted parking to UC employees.

New aquatics center raises parking, planning concerns [04.04.13] 
Berkeley museum chief: “New space good for town and gown” [02.13.13]
Work begins on new Berkeley Art Museum, to open in 2016 [02.12.13]
Berkeley Art Museum’s new architect talks bubbles, chops [05.04.12]
Palpable possibilities: Berkeley Art Museum’s home awaits [01.25.12]
New Berkeley Art Museum mixes old with eye-catching new [09.16.11]
Berkeley Art Museum selects architects for new home [06.24.11]
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]

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out All the News.

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  • Doc

    Here’s hoping the new UC art museum is wonderful for town. SFMOMA sure was a deep blessing to SOMA. May we be so fortunate.

  • destroy_all_monsters

    There’s a good amount of parking nearby SFMOMA. On the other hand no new parking is being built in Berkeley concurrently with larger structures and removing current parking.

  • Moriah

    Great photos and coverage of this big change. Does anyone know what’s planned for the old/current art museum building on Bancroft?

  • Charles_Siegel

    The current plan is to retrofit the old site for some other use. To make it seismically safe, they have to add more interior walls, blocking the interior views through the galleries, which is why they no longer want to use it as an art museum.

  • destroy_all_monsters

    Ah ok – thanks for that Charles. So at least the grounds and exterior will be the same – that’s a relief.

  • Guest

    There are 3 parking garages within a couple of blocks, though.

  • FYI, Britishism alert: Car park = parking garage. :)

  • destroy_all_monsters

    The problem is that we’ve already removed the former Hink’s parking lot, the former parking where the Earth Island building is, the parking in the former Grand Auto -now Trader Joe’s, now this parking lot and are on a trend of removing parking. We haven’t, concurrently, banned the University from building more and larger sports arenas and events – and we’re already roughly at capacity on a daily basis.

    The new location partially mitigates this by being closer to the BART hub but offsets it by removing parking that’s needed downtown. At some point new parking has to be built and not simply removed.

  • Mbfarrel

    BART 1 block

  • destroy_all_monsters

    BART is two blocks from SFMOMA and still there are far more parking options. Your point?

  • christine

    Thanks, Berkeleyan, for the nice coverage! For more about the new facility, visit

    Weekly construction updates are posted at

  • christine

    Oh no! I meant to type Berkeleyside! Apologies!

  • Charles_Siegel

    The parking where Earth Island is was moved under ground, not removed.

    The parking where Trader Joes now is was only for customers of that strip mall and did not affect Cal games. The Trader Joes project itself has customer parking plus an entire level of underground parking for residents – tight parking for customers but far more parking than the residents need, in response to NIMBY demands.

    We are at capacity on a daily basis because we charge less than the market price for parking. If you charge less than the market price for any scarce and valuable resource, you will create a shortage.

  • guest

    Charge too much for parking and you will drive away customers.

  • Mbfarrel

    I’m talking about access, you’re talking about cars. I’m sure you’ll miss the ease of parking at the old museum though.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Try googling “Donald Shoup.” He is a professor from UCLA who has become the country’s best known parking guru by showing how pricing parking properly can make parking more available and attract more customers.

  • destroy_all_monsters

    Your ability to follow the thread stuns me.

  • Blimey gov’. I wonder how that slipped in! Fixed. Thx.

  • destroy_all_monsters

    A couple things: the strip mall parking was generally used by anyone during the hours they weren’t open (and often even when they were) and was not locked until the sale.

    Your theory about the cost of parking is interesting and I’m not dismissing it. I’m going to read what Shoup has to say.

    I don’t think that we can wave away the fact that the University does keep building larger facilities and not providing any parking for those attending. The University is taking out parking at the same time. Let me be clear – I’m not in favor of the larger facilities and the congestion they cause. My concern is that the increased congestion will be continue to get worse over time.

    I can’t tell if the Oxford lot under the Earth Island building is less than that of its predecessor lot by looking at the City’s website. Regardless both the city and the University are taking out parking and generally not replacing it. Even if we priced it “right” I’m not at all sure that it would solve the problem that we are actively working against being any kind of shopping destination by being so anti-car.

  • Mbfarrel

    You’re right; I didn’t realize that this this article and the accompanying discussion was all about where to store cars.

  • destroy_all_monsters

    Nice of you to fail to notice that this new building will remove over 200 parking spaces and make a series of snide comments that have added nothing to the discussion – particularly since they were addressed in my other posts.

    Really son, try harder.

  • Mbfarrel

    I notice that you’ve turned this thread into one about parking and nothing else.
    Pizza, parking and police. Berkeley’s permanent fixations?

  • Another Shoup disciple here. “The High Cost of Free Parking” is a big book, but just reading the table of contents is an education: or

  • Charles_Siegel

    “Blimey” itself is an interesting Britishism.

    It is the cockney pronunciation of “Blame me.” The word “blame” was a common euphemism for “damn” in the nineteenth century, often used by Mark Twain.

  • Mbfarrel

    Well I may as well jump further into the parking thread.

    I wonder if the designs and designers of parking facilities can increase parking availability by dedicating some of the spaces to micro and, I suppose, nano cars. Obviously surface lots would be straightforward.

    In my neighborhood there is already more parking available because people are using these cars, and it possible to park some at a right angle to the kerb. One could easily fit two or perhaps more in a metered space.

    BTW, on topic, I think the design of the new museum is appalling.

  • destroy_all_monsters

    Maybe you missed the part where over 200 spaces were being removed which is clearly mentioned as part of the article by denoting its demolition.

    I noticed you made a series of snarky comments because you didn’t have an actual point. See how that works when its turned around?

    As I mentioned in my now deleted post (why?) I addressed whatever points you purport to have in other posts.

  • destroy_all_monsters

    Agreed on the design – not nearly as appealing as the old museum. Perhaps it’s due to incorporating the old buildings that it looks more like a jumble.

    Dedicating space (a floor perhaps) to the tinier cars seems like a good idea in the sense that it means that they’ll be taking up less space in garages (and in some cases you’d have to use up two of them for a more normal size car. What percentage of users have these small cars would need to be estimated.

  • Mbfarrel

    Not a lot now but I think acceptance of these cars will follow the cost of fuel – and parking availability

  • The_Sharkey

    Many currently available small cars, such as the Mini Cooper or the Fiat 500, don’t actually have better gas mileage than standard sized economy sedans.

  • Mbfarrel

    What’s snarkey about pointing out that BART provides excellent access to the new museum?

  • destroy_all_monsters

    It’s snarky due to the fact that A) everyone knows how far this spot is from BART, B) the OP was talking about SFMOMA and how it has benefited SF – and I pointed out that SF’s parking situation is vastly superior and C) I addressed balance of parking vs. access elsethread so yes it is ignoring the obvious in order to troll.

    Truly, it can’t be that hard to follow.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Maybe you missed the part in an earlier article saying:
    UC Berkeley is talking to the city of Berkeley about plans to redo the
    Center Street garage and reserve some parking for UC faculty and staff.
    Cal is also looking at building some small parking structures on the
    west side of campus, he said.

  • Tizzielish

    If you were referring to the city-owned parking lot on Oxford that now has Oxford Plaza and David Brower Center atop the old parking lot (Earth Island is just one tenant in DBC), the ‘new’ city lot has about 40 less parking spots, so there was some loss. Oxford Plaza also has a parking lot for its residents and that should count as some parking. Many of those spaces are rented monthly to non-residents because so few residents own cars — meaning they walk or use transit but this also adds spaces so, over all, the net parking loss was small and the city gained 97 affordable housing units and a thriving nonprofit conference center AND kept most of the parking. IF only all projects worked out as well.

    IT does seem UC is somewhat negligent about providing parking for their staff but folks can get to campus on public transit. It’s a pretty short walk from BART to the new museum and downtown is a bus transit hub. Come on, folks. Get out of your cars.