The envelope of secrecy around the SFMOMA expansion has yet to be lifted, but the three contenders for the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive’s new home were announced earlier this week. Two are well-known names, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Tod Williams Billie Tsien, responsible for two of the most notable art museums of the last decade—the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the American Folk Art Museum in New York. These two firms were also in the original pool that BAM/PFA considered for its original, ground-up design, which was won by Toyo Ito and subsequently scrapped for budgetary reasons.
The third name in the running, Ann Beha Architects, is not as familiar. But the firm has several museums to its credit, including two that involved additions to historic buildings: the Portland Museum of Art in Maine and the Currier Museum of Art in New Hampshire. The firm is also known for its careful transformation of Boston’s 1851 Charles Street Jail into a luxury hotel.
The remaining seven of the 10 asked to present qualifications were: David Adjaye, Will Bruder, Frederick Fisher, Michael Maltan, Snøhetta, Bernard Tschumi and Rafael Viñoly.
“We had a number of criteria that we were looking at,” said Lawrence Rinder, BAM/PFA’s director. “First and foremost, that the designer should have the capacity to support our mission and program, that they had previously worked on a museum or gallery, they had good examples of additions and renovations, the proven capacity to design at a cost that is affordable to us, and the proven capacity to design sustainably.”
The winner will be collaborating with EHDD, who will be the architect of record. The project involves the adaptive reuse of a 1939 printing plant on Oxford Street, near the entrance to the UC Berkeley campus. The plant has been vacant since 2005. A three- to four-story addition alongside the older structure, providing an additional 50,000 square feet of gallery space, offers the opportunity for new architectural design.
“The unusual opportunity from a design perspective is integrating the 1939 Art Deco building with new construction,” said Rinder. “And there are countless ways that could be done. So we’re very excited to see what the designers come up with.”
The overall budget, hard and soft costs included, is around $85 million, less than half of the $200 million estimated necessary for the original design proposed by Ito. The winner is expected to be announced at the end of June, and the building is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2014.