SFMOMA Expansion Reveal: Sun, Skin and Socializing


This morning SFMOMA and Snøhetta revealed to a salivating (and caffeinated—thanks to the always-popular complimentary coffee) group of journalists the detailed renderings of the latest version of the museum’s 245,000-square-foot expansion, set to be completed in early 2016. 

The talk by Craig Edward Dykers of Snøhetta revolved around three main points, which also happen to be crucial ingredients to a successful south-of the-border spring break: sun, skin and being social.

He started out with sun: The new addition will more than double the museum’s space, so it will not be petite. And one of the first things nascent planning geeks learn in this city is that shadows are serious business. So instead of a hulking structure that blocks the sun’s rays, the walls will be angled in all the right ways to let natural light do its thing. 

Next up, skin. I think it was Frank Gehry who got us obsessed with the idea that buildings should be wrapped in something far more interesting than the standard-issue glass, brick or steel, and buildings have been showing increasingly more skin ever since. In SFMOMA’s case, series of graceful, rippled concrete tiles will serve both as the building’s protective armor and glittering sheath. Specks of quartz embedded in the material will allow the building to literally sparkle, while the perfectly planned angles of the walls will create a constantly changing play of shadow and light.  

But the point most heavily emphasized by the team, which included SFMOMA’s director, Neal Benezra, Kjetil Thorsen and Dykers from Snøhetta, and Duncan Ballash of SF’s EHDD, was that this will be a social butterfly of a building. When completed, SFMOMA will play host to 40,000 square feet of public space that will be open to non-ticket holders. 8,000 square feet of that space will actually have art in it, while the rest will be places to hang out, meet friends or simply make your walk from Mission to Howard Street a little more interesting. This is a museum for more than just museum-goers, it’s for everybody. 

Some other points to get excited about: 

Nearly 80 percent of the needed $555 million has already been raised. (Take notes, High-Speed Rail Authority! Or maybe just find your own Don Fisher)

Much of new building will float above the ground, allowing for a cars, pedestrians and parks beneath. 

The administration offices will be at the very top of the new building, and employees will have their own roof garden for outdoor email checking and Facebook status updating. 

So far the verdict is no escalators. Everyone at this event seemed to hate escalators. 

There will be almost 20,000 square feet of park and landscaped outdoor space. 

Three cheers for art, architecture and San Francisco!!! 


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