Diller Scofidio + Renfro create new home for Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

July 15, 2015

The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) will move into a new home on 31 January 2016 in downtown Berkley, bringing the two institutions under one roof for the first time since 1999.

Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the US$112m (£72.5m, €100m) 83,000sq ft (7,710sq m) project integrates a pre-existing 48,000sq ft (4,459sq m) art deco building – the former 1939 printing plant of the neighbouring UC Berkeley – into a new 35,000sq ft (2,251sq m) structure. Included in the new development will be eight galleries of varying sizes, a small theatre, art-making lab, and other amenities including a film theatre, library, four study spaces, and a café.

BAM/PFA's original design, a brutalist structure created by Mario Ciampi in the 1970s, was found to be non-compliant with earthquake safety standards in 1997. For the archive to reach appropriate seismic safety standards, a significant amount of gallery space would have been eaten up, forcing the PFA to move out in 1999. The new building will bring the two entities under one roof again for the first time since.

"The design merges the old and new to create a permeable interface between the institution and the public," said a statement from Charles Renfro. "The supple body of the new structure, draped between the original 1930s orthogonal buildings and snagged on their sharp corners, creates a dramatic public spine that begins as a cantilevered cafe marking the building’s entrance, and culminates in an indoor theatre on the other end of the site.

"The sculptural form of the theatre volume reinterprets the 1930s Streamline Moderne style of the press building in a contemporary language of ruled surfaces and precision-formed stainless steel.

"The theatre hovers above an open excavation, exposing the library and study centres located underneath the theatre to the public. The printing plant’s original and distinctive north-facing sawtooth roof is strategically used to provide indirect natural light into many of BAM/PFA’s new ground-floor galleries."

The Leisure Media Company Ltd
By Tom Anstey