Toyo Ito's Berkeley Art Museum design
“He doesn’t have the name recognition of a Frank Gehry or a Daniel Libeskind, but Toyo Ito is one of Japan’s most acclaimed and adventurous architects. Looking at the design for a downtown Berkeley museum that would be his first building in the United States, it’s easy to see why.”
Box of plenty: design for Berkeley art museum [SFGate]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by invented

    Socketsite goes East? And to the Presidio (finally!) in same day?
    It’s about time!!! Glad to see a fuller Bay Area embrace of the built environment.

  2. Posted by zig

    I assume this is in the purview of Berkeley city?
    I don’t see a chance in hell that this gets built in the city that won’t allow moderate density in its underutilized downtown, is fighting BRT because of the loss of a few parking spaces (how green of you guys) and a simple park in the gourmet ghetto so people can sit somewhere other than the road median.
    Am I off base with that?

  3. Posted by sf

    Someone please explain why this is great architecture. I’m open to suggestions.

  4. Posted by lolcat_94123

    Yeah, but what does this have to do with Noe Valley?
    ;)
    That’s a great location – that block has always been pretty dull and empty (at least it was during my Cal days a few years back).

  5. Posted by Brian

    With this building, the block will remain dull and empty. Blank white walls are not a good solution for an urban block.

  6. Posted by Mole Man

    It looks like this design might provide glimpses from the street, which might enliven things. Exactly how lively probably depends in part on any entrance fees charged. Green features are hard to say for sure without a detailed plan, but daylighting and limited need for heating and air conditioning are likely part of the plan. Steel may not seem like a green construction material, but it is so light that it can minimize the amount of material and the amount of construction complexity involved.
    Great architecture is quite a judgement. The flow and look appear creative, fun, and also done in a way that is efficient and reasonable. What more could one ask for?
    I vaguely recall that there are issues with one or more underground rivers near downtown. Is this one of those places that has a crumbling tube concealing a strong flow from the hills? That could be an issue. My recollection is that cultural uses have been proposed for this site before, but funding was a problem.

  7. Posted by zzzzzzz

    The printing plant currently on the site is an absolute dead space to the street (except for the homeless who encamp themselves in front of it.) Anything that generates more pedestrian flow is certain to be a vast improvement.

  8. Posted by EBGuy

    Richard Serra meets … ?

  9. Posted by dub dub

    I think the artist rendering should be done from the plaza to the left of the existing picture facing campus, so you can see the university (and more trees) in the distance. I could not tell where this was from the rendering shown. Anyway, the new location is far superior — closer to BART, closer to downtown, further from frat row and the ihouse weenies :)
    What are they going to do with the existing museum space (article mentions unspecified “new use”)? This one looks much larger! I haven’t been in awhile, but it’s a fantastic little museum.

  10. Posted by SF2OAK

    I think it will get built. It is an art museum the 21 century holy shrine. It isn’t housing so it doesn’t have those flashpoint elements. Why is it great architecture? I don’t know is Libeskind CJM great arch.? Is Botta SFMOMA great? or the De Young? who knows. I do like the CJM, it makes for something very special at night, SFMOMA is not great, pretty pedestrian with a car air vent atop, I like the De Young, especially the viewing tower which was the most controversial issue, the Palace of legion of Honor is Great.
    If this is the design and it propels Berkeley to grow up, already, I’m for it. Watch the U take the old museum in its PacMan way. stop with the green already- it’s steel so it’s green just melt it down and recycle- never mind the endless amt of diesel emissions spewed in the effort.

  11. Posted by citicritter

    To the guest wanting an explanation why this is great architecture: because its Toyo Ito, thats why!
    He’s not known for fancy renderings but amazing buildings (go look up some recent ones by him), he’s probably a shoe-in for an upcoming Pritzker Prize. Its an incredible thing for Berkeley to be getting one of his designs — perhaps it will open some minds/eyes there, that every new building doesn’t have to be fake historical or look like an over-sized ersatz craftsman house.

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