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Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Advances Design For New Facility (November 25, 2008)

Building is first U.S. project for renowned Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects

Berkeley, California, November 25, 2008
– (Download a PDF version of this press release.) Following some ten weeks of study, evaluation, and refinement to the design for its new building, the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is nearing completion of the schematic-design phase of the project, which will be the first U.S. building by the internationally acclaimed Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, Tokyo, Japan. The highly innovative, curvilinear structure will give both the university and the city of Berkeley a signature building that promises to be one of the most exciting museum buildings of its time. The final design for the new BAM/PFA is expected to be complete at the end of 2009, and the museum anticipates that the new facility will open in 2013.

Plans for a new visual-arts facility for BAM/PFA were initiated following a 1997 survey that found that the museum’s existing facility—a 103,000-square-foot concrete structure—did not meet current seismic standards. The new building will be approximately forty percent larger than the existing one, with nearly twenty percent more exhibition space, an expanded screening room, a black-box space, and considerably enlarged and improved public research facilities.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau states, “Given UC Berkeley’s leadership role in art education, architecture, design, engineering, and research, it was incumbent upon the museum to create a building of the very best quality, both aesthetically and functionally. Toyo Ito’s concept design for BAM/PFA gives us just that. It is superbly designed, creatively engineered, welcoming, and of the highest aesthetic order. It will be an icon for the entire Bay Area.”

BAM/PFA’s Ito-designed complex will be located in an area where the UC Berkeley campus meets the city, at the northwest corner of Oxford and Center Streets. The site is close to the BART rail system and other public transportation, and, importantly, is in the city of Berkeley’s vibrant arts district, which encompasses such organizations as the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Jazzschool, and the Aurora Theater Company.

BAM/PFA Director Lawrence Rinder adds, “I am thrilled to lead this new building project as one of my first tasks as BAM/PFA director. The opportunities for expanded and more diverse programs, and for serving larger audiences, make this one of the most exciting times in the history of BAM/PFA. I look forward to working with our extraordinary team to make Toyo Ito’s superb design—with its graceful galleries and theaters and its dynamic and versatile public spaces—a reality.”

Building Design
Mr. Ito’s design calls for a three-story building with an unexpectedly fluid steel exterior that curves to meet dramatic, towering windows. The 139,000-square-foot interior will comprise a loose grid of interlocking spaces with gently curved walls that wind and bend throughout the structure. In places, the gallery walls will part, as if pulled aside like curtains, to allow passage between the varied exhibition areas.

The museum’s first floor will house one 256-seat film theater; one black-box space; four exhibition galleries, several of which, including the MATRIX gallery, will be open to the public without charge; the museum store and café, opening onto Center Street; a children’s studio; and other visitor amenities. The second floor will include nine exhibition galleries, a 49-seat screening room, the works on paper study center, the prints and drawings study center, a learning center, and a library. The top floor, with seven galleries, will be dedicated to BAM/PFA’s celebrated collection of historic Asian art, and will include both an Asian art study center and an Asian garden gallery.

Mr. Ito’s design has been made with sensitivity to the scale and fabric of the surrounding neighborhood, while also creating a distinctive architectural statement. With a plaza-like extension of Center Street, a largely transparent ground-floor façade that invites exploration of the museum within, and a large, multi-purpose interior forum, the building offers rich opportunities for interactions with the diverse population and institutions of the neighborhood and UC Berkeley community. In addition, several areas on the museum’s second-floor galleries will serve as “vista spaces,” one looking east to Oxford Street and the Berkeley campus, the others overlooking Center Street.

In an example of Mr. Ito’s renowned ability to couple design innovation with state-of-the-art engineering, all galleries and theaters will be equipped with the most up-to-date, flexible technologies, making them capable of accommodating evolving art forms and on-site research. Additionally, the new museum building is targeted to achieve at minimum a LEED silver certification, which will make it one of the most environmentally sustainable museum buildings in the country.

Funding
The new building is projected to cost $130 million to $140 million. Funding will come primarily from private sources, and BAM/PFA trustees and staff are approaching the public phase of the fundraising campaign. To date, the museum has raised nearly $80 million, with major support coming from the University of California, Berkeley, and generous private donors.

Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects
Toyo Ito is considered one of the world’s most innovative architects, from the perspectives of both design and engineering, and he is internationally celebrated for projects that explore the dynamic relationships and boundaries between architecture and the urban environment. His work thus embodies the experimental and inventive tradition of the University of California, Berkeley; BAM/PFA; and the city of Berkeley itself.

The new BAM/PFA will be the first project in the United States for Ito, who has designed numerous buildings in Japan and elsewhere around the world. Among his best-known projects are the Sendai Médiathèque, Miyagi, Japan (2001); Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre, Nagano, Japan (2004); TOD’S Ometesando Building, Tokyo, Japan (2004); the Meiso no Mori Municipal Funeral Hall, Gifu, Japan (2006); Tama Art University Library (Hachioji campus), Tokyo, Japan (2007); and the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, Taiwan, Republic of China (under construction).

Ito is the recipient of many awards, including the Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts, in 2008; the prestigious Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, in 2006; the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, presented in 2002 at the Venice Biennale’s 8th International Architecture Exhibition “NEXT”; and the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 2000. In 1971, he founded the firm Urban Robot, which was renamed Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, in 1979.

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive aims to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through contemporary and historical art and film, engaging audiences from the campus, the Bay Area community, and beyond. BAM/PFA is one of the largest university art museums in the United States in terms of attendance, and offers some fifteen art exhibitions and 450 film programs each year. These often present the work of emerging artists and filmmakers, as well as new perspectives on established practitioners.

The museum’s collection of more than 16,000 works includes exceptional examples of mid-twentieth-century painting, including important work by Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, and one of the finest collections of historical Chinese painting in the United States, much of it from the collection of James Cahill—UC Berkeley professor emeritus and one of the world’s leading scholars of this work—and his family. Additional strengths include Japanese prints and Indian miniatures, early American painting, contemporary international art, and California and Bay Area art. The museum’s ongoing MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art is dedicated to exhibitions and programs that present cutting-edge art and ideas.

The Pacific Film Archive is one of the nation’s most highly respected and comprehensive centers for film exhibition, collection, and study. Its internationally recognized exhibition program surveys a broad range of film in critical, cultural, and historical contexts, and frequently includes in-person conversations with filmmakers, authors, and scholars. The PFA film and video collection of approximately 14,000 films and videos includes the largest group of Japanese films outside of Japan, as well as impressive holdings of Soviet silent films, West Coast avant-garde cinema, seminal video art, rare animation, Central Asian productions, Eastern European cinema, and international classics.

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For information on the BAM/PFA building project, contact Jeanne Collins or Libby Mark,
Jeanne Collins & Associates, LLC, New York City, 646-486-7050 or info@jcollinsassociates.com.