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UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Announces Architect for New Building Project (September 26, 2006)

Berkeley, CA, September 26—The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), one of the nation's leading university art museums—and one of a select group of institutions internationally presenting both art and film—today announced that Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects has been selected to design a new center for the visual arts in downtown Berkeley.

"We are delighted to announce that Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects has been chosen from an international field of architects to design the new museum and film archive," says BAM/PFA Director Kevin E. Consey. "The firm was chosen for its robust and imaginative body of work, that balances poetry and elegance of design with proven constructability and innovative use of technology. It is especially exciting that this project will be the first in the U.S. for this internationally acclaimed and admired architect. We believe Ito's design will be an inspiration to generations of California's best and brightest students attending the nation's finest public university."

Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects was selected by a committee comprised of BAM/PFA trustees and staff, and UC Berkeley staff, including faculty members from the College of Environmental Design. This committee solicited qualifications from 141 architects and narrowed that selection to twenty, then five. The committee then made site visits and interviewed each of the five architects under consideration for the project, before making a recommendation that was approved by UC Berkeley's Chancellor, Robert Birgeneau.

"Toyo Ito is the perfect choice for this project. His designs embrace values that align with those of the Berkeley community, such as environmental sensitivity and sustainability, and the importance of accessibility and transparency for public institutions. It is appropriate that UC Berkeley will be home to the first major U.S. project by this important and innovative architect, whose work embodies the experimental and innovative tradition of the campus," says Noel Nellis, BAM/PFA Board President. "Our new facility will be an architectural and cultural icon for generations of UC Berkeley students, the Berkeley community, the Bay Area, and beyond."

Funds for the new building will come primarily from private sources. Currently BAM/PFA trustees and staff are in the early stages of the fundraising campaign.

The new museum and film archive will be located on University property at the corner of Oxford and Center Streets, at the western entrance of the UC Berkeley campus. At this new location, which is less than one block from the Berkeley BART station and adjacent to the Downtown Berkeley arts district, the new facility will form a physical and metaphorical gateway to the University, a place where great works of art and film will be collected, commissioned, studied, and enjoyed by the campus and community. Adjacent to a proposed hotel and conference center, the new museum will be a cornerstone for downtown economic redevelopment plans.

"This world-class facility for the visual arts will further define Berkeley as a leading cultural center for the West Coast," says Tom Bates, Mayor of the City of Berkeley. "As one of the largest museums in California, the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will serve as a critical anchor for Berkeley's economic revitalization, joining the Berkeley Repertory Theater, Aurora Theatre, and the Jazzschool as a destination for new visitors to the downtown arts district."

The new building for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will be a convergence of visual arts, research, and education. Among its features will be expanded exhibition and education spaces that will allow greater access to the museum's collections of contemporary and historic Western and Asian art. The new facility is envisioned as a cultural learning laboratory, a destination that will serve students, scholars, lifelong learners, and all those with a passion for the visual arts. Importantly, the new museum and film archive will be in keeping with the experimental and innovative tradition of Berkeley. The University, trustees, and architect are committed to sustainable design, and will aim to set a standard for museum construction internationally by achieving a minimum LEED "Silver" certification.

Planning for the new museum and film archive was initiated in 1997 when a campus seismic survey found the current building to be seismically below grade. Relocating the PFA Theater to a temporary facility on the UC Berkeley campus, and partially retrofitting the museum building in 2001, made it possible for BAM/PFA to stay open while planning and construction for the new building are underway. At present the University of California is considering alternate uses for the current building, which first opened to the public in 1970.