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On Sunday, hundreds of people swarmed through every nook and cranny, every cantilevered balcony and ramp, within the concrete hulk of the Berkeley Art Museum at 2626 Bancroft Way. They came to say goodbye to a building that has hosted innumerable highly regarded exhibitions over four decades, as well as art installations, fashionable events, and parties.
The staff moved in to their offices in September, planning for its inaugural exhibition is well underway, and construction is almost complete on the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), which is set to open in January 2016.
Yesterday, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive announced it had begun construction work on its new building in downtown Berkeley.
View from the corner of Oxford and Center streets of the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
Center Street façade of the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive which will open in January 2016. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
Major demolition is under way in downtown Berkeley on the site of the new location for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
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Babette, which continues to operate the café at the old BAMPFA site, will run the new café, part of which cantilevers over Center Street, offering views toward the Golden Gate and the Berkeley hills. A new feature of the café will be an evening lounge, Swig’s, which will complement Babette’s offerings with a special food and drink menu. The café can be accessed without paying admission.
Windows along the Center Street façade of the former printing press building have been enlarged, allowing passersby to look into the building and see the ‘Art Wall,’ a 60 x 25-foot interior surface that overlooks the multilevel performance space. BAMPFA intends to commission artists from around the world to create temporary murals on the wall twice a year. For the opening, Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie will produce a site-specific work on the Art Wall inspired by the Chinese literati garden.
Rinder also spoke of the challenge of designing a museum that has a dual identity and responsibility towards both art and film, and the commitment to creating a space that is both accessible and welcoming.
View of the largest gallery with restored sawtooth roof and beams above. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFAInterior view of the special event space with the underside of the film theater.
Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFADetail of the Oxford Street façade. The street-level glazing with illuminates an interior special event space, marks the juncture between the 1939 Art Deco administrative building and the new stainless steel-clad structure.
Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
“This is not just a place to come look and see,” he said. “There are many areas for community engagement.” Rinder cited as examples the museum’s reading room, art lab and its stepped salvaged-wood seating, created by master woodworker Paul Discoe, where visitors can relax and chat, as well as watch performances. He added that a goal of the museum’s design was to have a flow that was conducive to “wandering and to being surprised.”
Stainless steel roof cladding on the new BAMPFA. Photo: Daniel McPartlanA shiny new roof proves tricky
Anyone who passes through downtown regularly will have, over the past months, had the chance to observe the gradual transformation of the Deco Moderne former UC Berkeley printing plant into a striking structure sporting a gleaming silver roof, a cantilevered section that juts out over what will be the museum’s entrance on Center Street, and a gaping rectangular space on the Addison Street side that will soon be a giant canvas for screening images and films.
“When I first started planning the show the building didn’t exist,” he said.
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“A museum of the 21st century needs to be small, medium and large, black, white and gray in equal measures,” he said, emphasizing the requirement of flexibility. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all design solution.”
Museum director Lawrence Rinder has enjoyed the unusual opportunity of planning the new museum’s first show as the building and exhibition spaces that will house it emerged around him. The process, he told Berkeleyside earlier this year, was the perfect way for him to familiarize himself with the new structure, which was designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) will open its new building to the public on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 with an all-day open house; the first day of regular programming will be Wednesday, Feb. 3. Visit BAMPFA’s website for more information.
View from the mezzanine into the café which cantilevers over the museum’s Center Street entrance. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFADistinctive architecture and an accessible location
Before that, there’s a gala party, which is being held Thursday night at a temporary tent set up on UC Berkeley lawn abutting Oxford Street. The gala has raised around $1 million for education programs at the new museum, its director, Lawrence Rinder, said at a press preview event held Thursday morning.
“It’s a unique shape and we had a pretty steep learning curve,” Shaff told Berkeleyside. Known as a “freeform stainless steel façade system,” the roof is not dissimilar to that on the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, designed by architect Frank Gehry, or the EMP Museum in Seattle, also designed by Gehry. Shaff said the shingled look with raised seams used at BAMPFA may be unique, however.
Aside from some difficulties with the installation of the distinctive stainless-steel roof (see below), there have been no significant delays on the museum’s timeline, according to the museum’s owners, UC Berkeley.
Charles Renfro, a partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects who designed the new museum, echoed Rinder when he spoke at the preview about “places to get lost” at the new BAMPFA. Renfro talked about the delightful qualities of the 1930s printing plant that forms the core of the museum — its light quality and original features – and the need to add to it with more beautiful spaces to serve a variety of purposes.
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Read more about the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.
The countdown is nearly over. The new home of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, plum in the heart of downtown Berkeley, will throw open its doors to the public with a big open house on Sunday, Jan. 31, starting at 11 a.m.
Details of the open day on Jan. 31, the opening exhibition, talks and film programs can be found at the BAMPFA website.
The inside of the new museum offers a mix of large white exhibition spaces, several enticing open-plan areas for public events or where visitors can simply hang out, and stairwells and a womb-like café painted a deep shade of chili red. The new building is 20% smaller than it predecessor, the Mario Ciampi-designed concrete structure on Bancroft Way, but it has more usable space. The new building totals 83,000 square feet, with 25,000 square feet of gallery space. The $112 million project was funded through a philanthropic capital campaign and private sources.
Thursday evening, community members turned out in droves to sign the final steel beam for Berkeley’s new art museum before it was lifted high into the air by a crane and set in place.
Paul Discoe, a local master woodworker who designed Ippuku restaurant across the street from BAMPFA, among other projects, has fabricated joinery elements using wood salvaged from pine trees that were removed from the Addison Street side of the building site prior to construction. Discoe is creating the stepped seating of the ‘amphitheater’ performance space, the admissions desk, and the counter and shelving units in the BAMPFA store. The idea is that the wood will add a natural warmth to the building.
The new BAMPFA strikes a contemporary architectural note in the heart of downtown Berkeley. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
Seven Canary Island pine trees that were cut down in order to allow construction of the new Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive in downtown Berkeley were salvaged and will be used for several interior elements of the new museum, its director, Lawrence Rinder, revealed last week.
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Rinder echoed Renfro, saying the old museum saw around 75,000 visitors a year and he hoped the new one might attract more, given how close it is to downtown Berkeley, its BART station and the campus. Various elements, including the drop-in study center, an all-ages art lab, and onsite, interactive digital access to the museum and film archive’s vast collection should also encourage visitors to come by.
Read more about the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
The San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects recently announced the winners of its 2012 Design Awards, and four Berkeley projects were awarded in the progam, from a total of 26 across the Bay Area.
The new museum is slated to present more than 400 film screenings and up to 20 art exhibitions annually, as well as an extensive schedule of public programs and performances.
The new BAMPFA as seen from Oxford Street during construction. Photo, taken in August 2015, shows the stainless-steel roof cladding being installed. Photo: Daniel McPartlan
Rinder emphasized that it’s the first time the museum and the film program have been together under one roof since 1999, and it’s the first time BAMPFA has had a theater optimally designed for film. In fact there are two film theaters (with 232 seats and 33 seats respectively): the primary theater is equipped with state-of-the-art projection for all popular formats, sophisticated acoustics and a world-class sound system donated by Berkeley’s Meyer Sound.
BAMPFA’s new building is an absolute winner. The 82,000-square-foot home catapults Berkeley’s visual art scene into prominence — comparable to many larger, richer and better established West Coast institutions. It handsomely repurposes the former 1930s WPA UC printing plant building. Affixed to it is a brightly clad steel tube-like section that houses the new 232-seat Barbro Osher Theater, where films from its impressive archive of over 300,000 items will be regularly screened. There is also a 33-seat screening room and two film viewing booths available by appointment.
Master craftsman, Zen priest Paul Discoe puts his touch on new Berkeley Art Museum
“It’s an interesting moment to look at the world through the lens of architecture — to look at how it functions s a metaphor for life,” he said.
“It’s been a long hard road. Standing here today I feel both relief and excitement,” Lawrence Rinder, Director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive said, speaking on Tuesday in the shell of a building that will one day be a gleaming new cultural center in the heart of downtown Berkeley.
The new museum’s unmissable silver roof has proved more difficult to install than anticipated. Christine Shaff, communications director for UC Berkeley’s real-estate department, said each individual stainless steel tile had to be put in on a particular order. Complicating the task was the fact that some had to be fitted onto rounded corners.
The museum’s first day, on Sunday Jan. 31, 2016, will constitute a free, all-day open house for the general public, and the first day of regular programming will be on Wednesday Feb. 3.
The inaugural exhibition, “Architecture of Life,” curated by Rinder, is in place (Berkeleyside will have a review shortly). And a new mural was on display Thursday on BAMPFA’s Art Wall, visible to passers-by through the large Center Street windows. Called “The World Garden,” it was created in five days by Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie, working from a scaffold. A new work of art will be created on the Art Wall every six months, Rinder said.
At a press preview of the new BAMPFA on Jan. 28, guests sit on salvaged-wood stepped seating designed by Paul Discoe. A mural by Qiu Zhijie is on the Art Wall. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Two readers were in touch with Berkeleyside as the roof was being completed, expressing concern about what they described as the glare being emitted by the expanse of shingles. Shaff said she had not heard of any complaints. The roof will not be receiving any final coating and should stay shiny with proper cleaning and maintenance, she said.
Rinder said the thinking behind the show is that it will explore the ways that architecture illuminates aspects of life experience: the nature of the self and psyche, the fundamental structures of reality, and the power of the imagination to reshape our world.
Construction work has begun on the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive which, all things going well, is slated to open in the summer of 2016, bringing bold contemporary architecture into the heart of Berkeley.
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The dramatic Babette café space is cantilevered over the museum’s Center Street entrance. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFABAMPFA as seen from corner of Oxford and Addison with exterior PFA screen.
Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFAA gallery at the newly located BAMPFA which opens Sunday. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFAThe state-of-the art, custom-built Pacific Film Archive cinema.
Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFAThe outdoor Pacific Film Archive screen that gives onto Addison Street, as seen on Jan. 28, showing “Rudimentary Moves,” a video work by Naomie Kremer.
Photo: Tracey TaylorBookshelves in the reading room of the new BAMPFA, where visitors can relax, peruse books, or play with Lego blocks. Photo: Tracey TaylorCharles Renfro (foreground), a partner in the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro who designed the new museum, walks through the new BAMPFA museum shop.
Photo: Tracey TaylorA gallery for Himalayan and Asian art is distinguished by a parquet fir floor. Photo: Tracey TaylorGallery space at the new BAMPFA. Photo: Iwan Baan: courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFAA work by Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno using real spider webs is part of the opening exhibition “Architecture of Life” at the new BAMPFA.
Photo: Tracey TaylorThe intersection of the original 1930s building with the new addition with a view out to Oxford Street and a work of art by Felix Schramm on the right wall. Photo: Tracey TaylorThe new Babette café at BAMPFA.
Photo: Tracey TaylorJoan Ellis and Patrick Hooker, owners of Babette, the café that has moved from the old BAMPFA to its new location. Photo: Tracey Taylor
“Architecture of Life” will present an international selection of over 250 works of art, architectural drawings and models, and scientific illustrations made over the past 2,000 years. The show will serve as an introduction to the whole of the new BAMPFA, in that it will occupy all of the gallery spaces in the museum, through May 29, 2016. It will also seep into areas of the new museum that are technically not exhibition spaces, Rinder said.
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BAMPFA’s inaugural exhibition, ‘Architecture of Life,’ is an eloquent survey
The museum’s former late-night Fridays program is being replaced with a Full Moon program, with special programs every day there’s a full moon, Rinder said on a recent tour of the interior of the new building. The theater will be showing films pretty much every night, he said, bringing another movie watching option to downtown Berkeley.
The museum was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who also designed the High Line elevated park in New York, the Broad museum in Los Angeles and the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston. “The new home for BAMPFA will leverage its location between downtown Berkeley and the UC campus by providing unprecedented visual and physical access to its programs for both visitors and casual passersby,” Charles Renfro, partner at DS+R, said in a prepared statement. “BAMPFA will become a new social and cultural hub for the entire region.”