The sketches for SFMOMA’s expansion, developed in collaboration with the architecture firm Snøhetta, reveal a transformative design for the museum, the neighborhood, and the city. “Our design for SFMOMA responds to the unique demands of this site, as well as the physical and urban terrain of San Francisco,” says Snøhetta principal architect Craig Dykers. “The scale of the building meets the museum’s mission, and our approach to the neighborhood strengthens SFMOMA’s engagement with the city.”
Slated to open in early 2016, the approximately 235,000-square-foot expansion will seamlessly join the existing Mario Botta-designed building with a new addition spanning from Minna to Howard Streets. SFMOMA’s new building will include seven levels dedicated to diverse art experiences and programming spaces, and three housing enhanced support space for the museum’s operations.
It will also offer approximately 130,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor gallery space, as well as nearly 15,000 square feet of art-filled free-access public space, more than doubling our current capacity for the presentation of art while maintaining a sense of intimacy and connection to the museum’s urban surroundings.
New public spaces and additional public entrances to the building (on Howard and Minna Streets) are designed to increase access and weave the museum more deeply into the neighborhood. A mid-block, street-level pedestrian promenade will open a new route of circulation in the area, enlivening the side streets and offering a pathway between SFMOMA and the Transbay Transit Center currently under construction two blocks east of the museum. Additional outdoor features include a new sculpture terrace on the third floor with a large-scale vertical garden (the biggest public living wall of native plants in San Francisco), and a seventh-floor terrace with incredible city views.
An expansive free-to-access gallery on the ground floor with 25-foot-high glass walls facing Howard Street will place art — such as Richard Serra’s enormous walk-in spiral sculpture Sequence (2006) — on view to passersby. This gallery will also feature stepped seating, offering a resting and gathering point for museum tour groups and neighborhood denizens alike.
A versatile, double-height “white box” space on the fourth floor will create new possibilities for live performance, accommodating theater-in-the-round configurations, multiscreen projections, and special installations. It will also serve as a starting point for many school tours, allowing the number of K–12 student visits to increase from 18,000 to 55,000 annually when we reopen in 2016.
Together with the revitalization of existing spaces such as the Phyllis Wattis Theater and Koret Visitor Education Center, the addition of new features and spaces supporting education and family programs deepens our commitment to providing broad access to and fostering a lifelong engagement with art.
Behind the scenes, state-of-the-art conservation studios on the seventh and eighth floors will further SFMOMA’s progressive work in the care and interpretation of our collections. The expansion will also make field-leading contributions to global standards of energy efficiency for art museums; we are on track to achieve LEED Gold certification, with a 15 percent energy-cost reduction, 30 percent water-use reduction, and 20 percent reduction in wastewater generation.
Location: San Francisco, USA
Client: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)