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Four Questions for Craig Dykers

Earlier this week I went down to SFMOMA to see the unveiling of the design for the expansion of the art museum by the Norwegian architects at Snøhetta. I posted a video of what the building is meant to look like, but I also got a chance to talk with the firm's senior partner Craig Dykers. Dykers was mild, approachable, and unpretentious. In his presentation he spoke significantly of making a place where people feel "comfortable" and eschewed all high theoretical jargon. I had a chance to chat with him before his talk. Here's what we discussed.

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If the expansion of SFMOMA is set to open in early 2016, where are you now?
We're at the end of the schematic design phase. And we're in a place where we feel confident that the building is going to meet the budget. It's a good spot to be in.
The building Mario Botta designed for SFMOMA in 1995 remains the hero of this block of 3rd St. How does your new building, which rises behind it and faces the interior of the block, speak to the old one?
I think the best way to say it is that we're working with a dancing partner, and you have to be sure not to step on your partner's feet. Our building needs to make a complimentary association. You don't want more of the same.

You can see how the new building, with its rippling facade, faces into the city block.
You can see how the new building, with its rippling facade, faces into the city block.

Anything else new from Snøhetta, as if this project weren't enough?
We've just finished a reindeer pavilion near Snøhetta Mountain not far from the Petter Daas Museum we did near Alstahaug. It's in the only place in Norway where the reindeer are wild and live in their natural state. Otherwise they're herded and slaughtered for meat. We've done an observation platform for people to come observe them without disturbing them acoustically or physically. It's a tiny but powerful project.
The white slab sits behind Mario Botta's brick structure with its big, circular oculus.
The white slab sits behind Mario Botta's brick structure with its big, circular oculus.

Do you like shifting scales from something small like the reindeer platform to something massive like the museum?
It's actually one of the tenets of our practice. Working on a smaller scale can still have a big impact on society because people can come and touch and own a smaller work in a more personal way. People need intimate things, and though we put them in our larger works, when you're in a big building the human mind can only take in so much.
Dykers went on and on about the Blue Bottle coffee served at his presentation. Clearly SFMOMA is tipping its cap to Snøhetta with the modified O on the coffee cups.
Dykers went on and on about the Blue Bottle coffee served at his presentation. Clearly SFMOMA is tipping its cap to Snøhetta with the modified O on the coffee cups.

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