After a three-year closure for a massive renovation, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) finally reopens this week. The $305 million redesign isn’t just an upgrade of old facilities, however. Norwegian architects Snøhetta greatly expanded the museum’s footprint with the addition of a 10-story new wing that’s a startling contemporary contrast to the museum’s original, Mario Botta-designed brick building. The new extension nearly triples the museum’s display area—offering 40% more gallery space than New York’s Museum of Modern Art— plus it's designed for LEED Gold certification and it features the nation’s largest public living wall of native plants designed by founder and principle of Habitat Horticulture, David Brenner.
Designed to accommodate SFMOMA’s significant growth in collection, program, and visitors, the 235,000-square-foot expansion brings the museum’s total area to 460,000 square feet. In addition to added indoor and outdoor gallery space, the expansion introduces an over 500% increase in public access/free space and nearly quadruples both education space and restaurant/dining space.
Circulation has also been greatly improved, as have connections to the surrounding urban fabric. The new museum wing’s iconic eastern facade was inspired by the San Francisco Bay’s fog and is made from locally fabricated fiberglass reinforced polymer (FRP) panels. The museum is expected to receive LEED Gold certification for the new building with a 46% reduction in energy use and a 60% reduction in potable water use. SFMOMA is also one of the nation’s first museums to use only LED lighting throughout all the gallery spaces.
“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,” said Craig Dykers, founding partner of Snøhetta and leader of the firm’s design team for SFMOMA. “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.”
The expanded SFMOMA will open to the public on Saturday, May 14 with 19 special exhibitions, and offer free access to ground-floor galleries and free admission for visitors aged 18 years and younger.
Images © Iwan Baan, Henrik Kam, Joe Fletcher