The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has just released photos of preliminary renderings by Snøhetta, the Oslo- and New York-based architectural firm, of its planned 225,000-square-foot expansion, to be completed in 2016. Constricted by its site to a long, narrow footprint, it appears to tower and glower menacingly over the fanciful Mario Botta building, which it exceeds in height by 50 feet:
All images courtesy of Snøhetta
The pinkish 1995 Botta building, with its distinctive granite striped turret and round skylight, appears to have nothing to say to the flat white screen that will serve as its backdrop. Then again, as John King observed in his article for the San Francisco Chronicle, “the details [not to mention the renderings] are sketchy,” so it may be unfair to leap to premature conclusions. The material for the building’s skin has not yet been determined, according to King.
SFMOMA’s director, Neal Benezra, had previously told me that he hoped the new addition would present a more welcoming aspect than the façade of the Botta—a building that some San Franciscans love to hate, but that I find appealing, in a wacky way.
In its blandness, compared to the strong statement of its forerunner, the planned addition reminds me of the slab-like annex designed by Gwathmey Siegel that rises behind the Guggenheim Museum’s signature Frank Lloyd Wright facility.
Here’s an aerial view, with the striped turret of the Botta to the left. The addition is the massive long, narrow building, which appears to connect to a rooftop sculpture garden on the right (with the obligatory Calder).
The new building’s design actually looks most interesting when viewed from an airplane. Here’s a nighttime aerial rendering (Botta’s oculus to the right):
And here’s a glass-walled corner gallery, as seen from the street:
More information about the $480-million project (which includes $100 million for endowment) is provided in the museum’s just-issued press release. This is still a work-in-progress, and will presumably have to go through a public approval process before ground can be broken.