The San Diego Museum of Art selects Foster + Partners for upcoming renovation project

Building in Balboa

The San Diego Museum of Art selects Foster + Partners for upcoming renovation project

The San Diego Museum of Art (Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Foster + Partners will renovate a portion of The San Diego Museum of Art, a heavily ornamented, plateresque-style building designed to complement structures from the Panama–California Exposition of 1915. The upcoming renovation project will focus on environmental enhancements, increasing gallery space, and adding an Education Center to the campus.

Located within San Diego’s Balboa Park, The San Diego Museum of Art was designed by architects William Templeton Johnson and Robert W. Snyder. The museum opened in 1926. Its ornate facade and interiors are influenced by the decorative elements and motifs found in historic architecture in locations across Spain. It houses a robust collection of Spanish art, in addition to Asian, European, and American paintings and sculptures.

The museum chose to work with Foster + Partners on the upcoming renovation because of the firm’s experience working with historic buildings and its extensive portfolio designing for art and cultural institutions.

“After a thorough process of interviews with many exceptional firms and a unanimous vote by the board of trustees, we are delighted to have selected Foster + Partners as our Design Architect for this exciting project. Their proven experience and high respect for historical sites made Foster + Partners a great fit. Our shared vision is that this project will feature free access to open art spaces for the public and increase educational opportunities for the community,” said Executive Director and CEO at The San Diego Museum of Art Roxana Velásquez in a press release. “Foster + Partners’ impressive expertise, combined with their commitment to community engagement, will help us create a space that makes art more accessible to everyone and, simultaneously, is functional in design and fit for the next 100 years.”

Renovation work will center on the museum’s west wing facilities. Paramount to the renovation is honoring the historical significance of the existing museum as well as that of the surrounding Balboa Park.

In addition to plans to increase art displays and public programming, the project will add an Education Center, an art pavilion with connections to nature, and a rooftop area overlooking Balboa Park.

“I have always admired San Diego’s rich cultural diversity and deep sense of community,” added Norman Foster. “We are delighted to be working with The San Diego Museum of Art to strengthen its roots in the area, reinvigorating a much-loved landmark with the ultimate aim of making art more accessible to the community.”

Serving as Architect of Record alongside Foster + Partners is LPA Design Studio, a firm with offices in California and Texas. In this role, LPA will serve as project managers and oversee daily aspects of the project.
With the design team appointed, the project will now enter a planning phase. The museum will put together community engagement sessions during this process so the public can weigh in what they would like to see at the museum. The project is slated to break ground in 2026.

AN will follow up when project renderings are released.