Snøhetta’s US$610m SFMoMA extension opens its doors

by Kim Megson | 29 Apr 2016

UPDATE: Snøhetta's striking and hotly-anticipated new building for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) opens today (14 May) in the US city.

The international architecture studio have been working on the project, one of their largest to date, over the past three years. They have added an abstract, fog-like 10-storey extension to the museum's existing building on 151 Third Street, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botti in 1995.

Their bold, asymmetrical extension has tripled the exhibition space, allowing for more of SFMOMA’s vast collection of art, sculpture and photography to be put on display.

Strikingly, the eastern façade of Snøhetta’s expansion comprises of more than 700 uniquely-shaped crystal-embedded fibreglass reinforced polymer panels, fixed to a curtain-wall system. As a result the building catches the changing light and shifts in appearance throughout the day.

Speaking exclusively to CLADmag last year, Snøhetta founding partner Kjeti Trædal Thorsen described the extension and Botti’s original as “dance partners – two different, strong personalities dancing tightly together in that urban setting.”

Explaining the challenges of building on such a tight urban site, he said: “In order to create exhibition floors with a certain volume, we had to expand quite creatively. We needed to expand between two street façades and we needed a more open representation at street level – something more like a storefront.

“With a vertical museum structure, we needed to bring people in an easy yet recognisable way from one floor to the next. And we needed to connect the two buildings and create interactive areas that would support both. We have done that by creating a new common space on the first floor that links the buildings in a simple manner and also makes it easy for visitors to orientate themselves.”

The museum’s exhibitions will showcase works from artists such as Chuck Close, Ellsworth Kelly, Lee Krasner, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin and Andy Warhol. Over 5,000 free tickets are being handed out for the museum’s opening day.

“We are so excited to open the doors and welcome the public to the new SFMOMA,” said museum director Neal Benezra. “We have an incredible new building, an expanded collection with thousands of new works of the highest quality and a staff that is proud to share what they’ve been working on for the past three years.”

Craig Dykers, founding partner of Snøhetta and leader of the firm’s design team for SFMOMA, said: “Our design seeks to create an intimate experience, welcoming a diversity of visitors to the magnificent collection, and fostering a connection between the visitor and museum for years to come.

“All of the senses will be engaged as part of the experience. Wonderful day lit staircases lead visitors from floor to floor, the galleries create a comfortable viewing experience of the art, and terraces allow for moments of repose, to be reinvigorated by fresh air, sunlight and vistas of the city between galleries.

“The visitor should sense that the building is inspired by one of the great cities of the world, San Francisco.”

In addition to the gallery space, the museum’s new building features a two-storey conservation centre and a restaurant called In Situ, operated by Michelin-starred chef Corey Lee.

The project has been funded by more 500 donors, with US$610m (€551.6m, £398m) raised to pay for the construction and the museum’s education, art commissioning and exhibition programmes.

Patrick Bellew and his environmental consultancy firm Atelier Ten were also heavily involved in the project.

Snøhetta and their work around the world will soon be the focus of a major US exhibition held by the The Center for Architecture in Portland, Oregon.

Snøhetta  SFMOMA  architecture  design  museum  San Francisco 
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Opening date revealed for Snøhetta's spectacular San Francisco SFMOMA expansion

UPDATE: Snøhetta's striking and hotly-anticipated new building for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) opens today (14 May) in the US city. The international architecture studio have been working on the project, one of their largest to date, over the past three years. They have added an abstract, fog-like 10-storey extension to the museum's existing building on 151 Third Street, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botti in 1995. Their
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International architecture studio Snøhetta have released new images of the 10-storey addition, which has been developed over the past three years / SFMOMA
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