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.

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