Collection by Zachary Edelson

A Floating Theater Hides Within this Art Deco-Inspired Modern Museum


Located on the edge of the University of California, Berkeley campus, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)'s new building was once an industrial facility housing offices and printing presses. With its renovation and addition by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, it now hosts luminous galleries, a massive outdoor LED screen, and more.

The story behind this unique design actually begins with another building: Woo Hon Fai Hall, designed by architect Mario Ciampi and former home to BAMPFA. Originally opened in 1970, Ciampi’s building was determined to be noncompliant with earthquake safety standards in 1997. Structural upgrades would limit and alter its gallery spaces beyond usability. An added complication: the building also housed the University’s film program in one of its theaters. A new home for both museum and film program would have to be found; an initial design by Tadao Ando proved too costly when an economic downturn struck. Finally, the University selected DS+R after an ideas competition to renovate and expand an existing Art Deco building – the university’s former press – with a budget of $112 million. The museum will open on January 31, 2016 with the exhibition “Architecture of Life” that will run through May 29, 2016.

DS+R partner Charles Renfro says the University wanted the musuem—which is situated at the crossroads of an arts...
The aerodynamic curves of the addition—which conceals a 232 seat auditorium—were inspired by the Streamline Moderne...
Glass walls and floors allow passerby to peak into the spaces below.
The new 232 seat theater seems weightless within the stainless steel shell.
A rendering of the main theater’s interior; BAMPFA’s collection includes more than 17,500 videos and films and features...
The first floor gallery space features classic industrial architecture: sawtooth skylights and polished concrete floors.
“We loved this idea to adaptively re-use the printing press building along with its administration building,” Renfro...
The stainless steel addition—what the DS+R calls the building's “public spine"—begins with the cantilevered café and...
At the opposite end of the "public spine" is the café, rendered here looking north from within (or near) the cantilever...
Everybody loves feedback. Be the first to add a comment.
The author will be notified whenever new comments are added.

Get a Daily Dose of Design

Sign up for the Dwell Daily Newsletter and never miss our new features, photos, home tours, stories, and more.