UC Berkeley News


Ito named architect for new BAM/PFA building
At the gateway to the campus, it is viewed as a likely linchpin of the city's economic redevelopment

| 28 September 2006

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) has selected Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects to design a new center for the visual arts in downtown Berkeley.

The firm was chosen, says BAM/PFA Director Kevin Consey, "for its robust and imaginative body of work that balances poetry and elegance of design with proven constructability and innovative use of technology." The selection was made by a committee comprised of BAM/PFA trustees and staff and Berkeley staff, including faculty members from the College of Environmental Design.

About Toyo Ito

Harrison Fraker, dean of the College of Environmental Design, describes Toyo Ito as one of the world's "most innovative" architects, while Dana Buntrock, associate professor of architecture, calls Ito "the poet of architecture in Japan."

Ito is indeed widely regarded as one of the world's most influential architects. He is an honorary fellow of both the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects, and his many awards include the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2000), the World Architecture Award, Best Building in East Asia (2002), the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the international jury of the 8th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (2002), and the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture from the Royal Institute of British Architects (2006).

Among Ito's most acclaimed projects are the Sendai Médiathèque (Sendai, Japan), Shimosuwa Municipal Museum (Nagano, Japan), the Brugge Pavilion (Brugge, Belgium), and the Yatsushiro Municipal Museum (Kumamoto, Japan). The Sendai Médiathèque - a public building that houses a library, gallery, public theater, and meeting spaces, and high-tech audiovisual center - has been praised as "technologically sophisticated yet warm and engaging" and an "urban spectacle at its most refined."

"Toyo Ito is the perfect choice for this project," says Noel Nellis, BAM/PFA board president. "His designs embrace values that align with those of the Berkeley community, such as environmental sensitivity and sustainability, and the importance of accessibility and transparency for public institutions. Our new facility will be an architectural and cultural icon for generations of Berkeley students, the Berkeley community, the Bay Area, and beyond."

The new museum and film archive will be located on University property at the corner of Oxford and Center streets, at the western entrance of the campus, forming a physical and metaphorical gateway to the university. The site is adjacent to a proposed hotel and conference center, and together these projects are viewed by campus and city alike as a cornerstone for downtown economic-redevelopment plans.

"This world-class facility for the visual arts will further define Berkeley as a leading cultural center for the West Coast," says Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, "joining the Berkeley Repertory Theater, Aurora Theatre, and the Jazzschool as a destination for new visitors to the downtown arts district."

The university, BAM/PFA trustees, and the architect are committed to sustainable design, and will aim to set a standard for museum construction internationally by achieving a minimum LEED "silver" certification.

Planning for the new museum and film archive was initiated in 1997 when a campus seismic survey found the current building to be seismically in very poor condition. In 2001 the PFA Theater was relocated to a temporary facility on campus, and the museum building was partially retrofitted, making it possible for BAM/PFA to stay open while planning and construction for the new building are underway. Alternate uses for the current building, which first opened to the public in 1970, are being considered.

Funds for the new building will come primarily from private sources. Currently BAM/PFA trustees and staff are in the early stages of the fundraising campaign.

For more information and updates on the BAM/PFA building project, visit bampfa.berkeley.edu/newbuilding.

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