In the course of more than 40 years, the University of California, Davis has amassed a fine art collection of more than 4,000 works, from ceramics to paintings, spanning antiquity to the present. While the collection is visible online, much of it has remained in archival storage. University administrators, staff, and faculty have wrestled with a method for improving access for students and the wider community. Now the school is planning a fine arts museum on campus that will serve as an art and architecture learning tool.
To attract proposals for the project—which is to be called The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art—the school hosted an international design competition with a twist. It gave entrants four months to design and bid, with teams consisting of not only an architecture firm, but an executive architect and a contractor as well—design-build collaborations that may be a first for a fine arts museum in the U.S.
The three finalist designs come from bi-coastal and international teams with diverse strategies for the museum, which will occupy 1.6 acres on the southern edge of the UC Davis campus. Entries were judged on a variety of criteria, including previous exhibition design experience, familiarity with the university, creativity, and an innovative sustainable design approach.
The Slant—by Kitchell/WORKac/WRC—centers on providing public access through a variety of indoor spaces as well as outdoor “rooms” for public programming. The orientation and angle of the sloped roof is calculated to minimize solar heat gain without sacrificing views to the outside. The name of The Leaf—by Oliver and Company/Henning Larsen Architects/Gould Evans—refers to its foliage-shaped roof canopy. The design features a covered ramp that connects the ground level to an upper story courtyard, where circulation doubles as a living room. Grand Canopy—by Whiting-Turner/SO – IL/Bohlin Cywinski Jackson—imagines a 50,000-square-foot permeable cover, with spaces to host outdoor art events, concerts, and classes.
Funding for the project will come from tax-exempt bonds as well as private donations. The museum is named after Jan Shrem, a Napa Valley wine proprietor and his wife, Maria Manetti Shrem, an arts patron, who together donated $10 million toward the facility’s construction. After a period of public input, the winning design will be announced mid May. Groundbreaking is anticipated for 2014 and completion in 2016.