The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) recently unveiled the preliminary design for its expansion that will double the museum's exhibition and education space while enhancing the visitor experience and more deeply weaving the museum into the fabric of the city.
The expansion will run contiguously along the back of the current building and extend from Howard to Minna streets, allowing for the seamless integration of the two structures. The new building will provide SFMOMA with a greater public profile and an openness that will welcome visitors and project the museum's role as a catalyst for new ideas, a center for learning, and a place that provides great art experiences for Bay Area residents and visitors.
On its east side, the building will feature a sweeping facade
and an entrance in an area that is currently hidden from public
view and largely unused. This will be achieved through the creation
of a mid-block, open-air, 18-foot-wide pedestrian promenade running
from Howard Street through to Natoma Street that will open a new
route of public circulation through the neighborhood and bring
Natoma Street, currently a dead end, to life. The public promenade
will feature a series of stairs and landings terracing up to an
entry court that extends from the new east entrance, providing
additional public spaces.
/Craig Dykers, Snøhetta principal architect
Our design for SFMOMA responds to the unique demands of this site, as well as the physical and urban terrain of San Francisco. The scale of the building meets the museum's mission, and our approach to the neighborhood strengthens SFMOMA's engagement with the city. Pedestrian routes will enliven the streets surrounding the museum and create a procession of stairs and platforms leading up to the new building, echoing the network of paths, stairways, and terracing that is a trademark of the city.
The building also introduces a facade on Howard Street that will feature a large, street-level gallery enclosed in glass on three sides, providing views of both the art in the galleries and the new public spaces.
At this time, the museum is also exploring the creation of a number of outdoor terraces, including one on top of its current building. The Snøhetta building will rise fifty feet higher than the Botta building, and its roofline will be sculpted to frame the skyline of the buildings beyond it to the east when viewed from Yerba Buena Gardens.
The new entrance will be accessible from both Howard and Natoma streets and will align with the new Transbay Transit Center being built two blocks east of the museum. This entry will complement SFMOMA's current Third Street entrance, which will be revitalized to enhance visitor flow and access.
SFMOMA sparked the dramatic transformation of San Francisco's South of Market district when it transformed a run-down neighborhood into a cultural anchor for the city in 1995. After 15 years on Third Street, SFMOMA is now further invigorating the city by opening up a place that has been out of sight and out of mind.
SFMOMA's expansion will enliven the neighborhood through a generous plan that frees connections between well-known surrounding streets and more hidden urban spaces. The building will encourage people to enjoy the intimate small streets as much as the heavily used thoroughfares of the district. The new building does not push tightly against its property lines; instead it creates new public spaces and pedestrian routes through the neighborhood along with open views of the surrounding streetscape. By organizing the complex configuration of the museum's expansion site into a unified whole, the new SFMOMA will promote connections to portions of the city that are already becoming more publicly accessible with the construction of the new Transbay Transit Center. Having been a partner to the creation of the cultural hub around Yerba Buena Gardens, SFMOMA will now further enliven the entire neighborhood as an urban destination.
Formally, the new SFMOMA is designed to engage with the skyline that surrounds it. Its sculptural identity is found in a formal language that embraces and invites the silhouettes of its neighbors to participate in the dialogue of the new urban identity of South of Market. SFMOMA's new, low slung shape will create a horizon in the skyline that connects rather than segregates the different parts of the city that border it.
Facts about SFMOMA
Projected completion: 2016
Last updated: January 14, 2013