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Architectural Trauma: Downsized Berkeley Art Museum Plans May Not Include Toyo Ito

From the Museum of the Unbuilt: Toyo Ito’s scrapped model for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Lawrence Rinder, fresh from conversing on Oct. 27 with his former Whitney Museum mentor, Max Anderson (who now directs the Indianapolis Museum of Art), announced on Wednesday a disappointing development that must have given Max traumatic flashbacks: The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), where Rinder became director after leaving his contemporary art curatorship at the Whitney, revealed that its planned new building, designed by Toyo Ito, is “being modified due to lingering economic uncertainty.”

Max, as you may remember, stepped down from his Whitney directorship after the board decided not to proceed with Rem Koolhaas‘ design for that museum’s expansion.

BAM/PFA had been trying to raise $200 million for its project, but the capital campaign, as of this month, had only pulled in $81 million, Rinder told Kenneth Baker of the San Francisco Chronicle.

When I asked BAM/PFA for further details, including whether Ito would still be involved in the diminished project, Ariane Bicho, communications director, replied:

It’s too early to say. We have several intriguing concepts on the table, and it’s possible that Ito will be involved. The biggest change will be the scale of the project.

As far as functions, features and materials, it’s just too early to say. University and museum leadership are currently looking at a range of possibilities, one of which includes repurposing the existing building at Center and Oxford streets.

We are currently analyzing what we can afford in the next iteration.

In his rave for Ito’s design, back when it was announced one year ago, Nicolai Ouroussoff, the NY Times‘ architecture critic, was sadly prophetic:

I have no idea whether, in this dismal economic climate, the University of California will find the money to build its new art museum here. But if it fails, it will be a blow to those of us who champion provocative architecture in the United States.

Will someone please buy Nicolai a good stiff drink?

an ArtsJournal blog