Firm Chosen to Plan New Design for Museum

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After months of deliberation, New York-based firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro was named Wednesday to oversee the long-awaited design plan for the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Downtown Berkeley.

The design firm beat out two other architecture firms - Boston-based Ann Beha Architects and New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects - for the project.

The museum has been slated for relocation from its current location at Bancroft Way and College Avenue to Oxford Street since 1999, when it was deemed seismically unsafe. Japanese architect Toyo Ito had previously been selected for the job, but his plan was discarded because it would have costed about $145 million.

Now that a new design firm has been chosen, the project is expected to be completed in late 2014, according to museum director Lawrence Rinder.

"Diller Scofidio + Renfro is a really terrific firm," he said. "They are extraordinary, ingenious and creative and an optimal choice for Berkeley. Their spirit embodies the excellence that is Berkeley, and I think they'll have a great time working with the community and campus members here."

The firm was selected by a committee consisting of representatives from the museum's staff and board of trustees, the campus capital projects office and the community, according to Rinder.

Key criteria in the decision included the firm's ability to support the institutional and the educational aspects of the museum, a commitment to environmentally sustainable design and their ability to create an exciting, unique structure within the allotted $95 million budget, Rinder said.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro was founded in 1979 by Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio. Charles Renfro joined the practice in 1997 and became a partner in 2004.

Some of the firm's past projects include the Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art and the Blur Building in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland.

Current projects include Brown University's Creative Arts Center and the Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"We're an interdisciplinary design practice," said Jhaelen Eli, director of business development for the firm. "What that means is that we combine disciplines like architecture, visual arts and the performing arts that normally have not coexisted."

The museum's new location integrates it into the city's art district and is more accessible because of its proximity to public transportation such as BART, according to Christine Shaff, communications director for the campus Department of Facilities Services.

Local businesses surrounding the new museum complex will benefit from the museum's relocation, according to Mahmood Hamid, manager of Bongo Burger, a restaurant across the street from the museum's new site.

"We're excited," said Rinzin Jehru, owner of Tibet Souvenirs, another business across the street from the new museum. "It will attract visitors and bring in more revenue."

Tags: DOWNTOWN BERKELEY, BERKELEY ART MUSEUM, PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE


Contact Aaida Samad at [email protected]



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