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Davis: Design chosen for Shrem art museum

originally posted by SF Gate
May 2013

Even as high-profile museums in San Francisco and Berkeley begin taking shape, another architecturally ambitious cultural facility is planned for just outside the Bay Area.

The location is UC Davis, where university officials on Wednesday selected the design team and concept for a museum to be built along Interstate 80 on the south edge of the 33,000-student campus.

The lead architect for the 25,000-square-foot museum is SO – IL, a small but highly regarded New York firm working with the San Francisco office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, a much larger firm best known for its Apple stores. Two other teams led by emerging firms vied for the $30 million project.

“I’m proud that our design competition reached beyond the usual suspects,” said Rachel Teagle, the director of what is being called the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, in honor of the couple whose $10 million gift forms the bulk of the private donations. “We wanted new voices and thinking about the role and experience of art in the 21st century.”

The team’s Grand Canopy concept enclosed its full-block site in an acre-plus sloping roof draped over galleries, art studios and landscaped outdoor spaces.

The open-air portion of the complex would face north toward the center of the UC Davis campus, sharing a corner across from a quad with the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

The patterned roof, and the variety of indoor and open-air “rooms” underneath, “refers to the agricultural landscape and the vast horizon you have here,” architect Florian Idenburg said recently. Beyond the look, Idenburg said SO – IL’s goal is to create a “new model for a museum on campus, a museum for a group of people still in the phase of becoming.”

The runners-up included Henning Larsen Architects, which was paired with the San Francisco office of Gould Evans, construction firm Oliver Co. and local landscape architect Gary Strang. The third team was led by WORKac, an architecture firm with projects in Russia and Houston.

An unusual feature of the competition is the design-build aspect. Each team included a construction firm and turned in a full proposal, rather than a vision that then must be adapted to reality.

“The idea was to convene the whole team from day one,” Teagle said. As a result of the effort already put into the museum scheme by the architects, contractor Whiting-Turner and landscape architect Cheryl Barton, “we’re 50 percent of the way into the design process.”

The schedule calls for construction to begin next spring. This would allow the museum to open in 2016.

That’s the same year that two other arts institutions should open their own new and or improved homes.

One is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which has begun demolishing two buildings on Howard Street to make way for a major new wing behind its current home on Third Street across from Yerba Buena Gardens.

The other is the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, which has started preconstruction work on the transformation of a former printing plant at Center and Oxford streets in downtown Berkeley into a multimedia arts center.

photo information: The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis is planned to open in 2016.

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