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First look at SFMOMA's new wing

May 26, 2011 |  8:30 am

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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is expanding -- in part to create space for the collection of late Gap founder Donald Fisher -- and Thursday we got the first glimpse of the new wing.

Designed by busy Norwegian firm Snøhetta, which is also at work on the museum at New York's ground zero, the addition will slip a massive, 335-foot-long cruise ship of a structure behind the museum's existing building, which was designed by Mario Botta and opened in 1995. The main entry to Botta's museum, along Third Street, will remain, but a second gateway to the museum will open up along Howard Street.

The plans are sketchy -- Snøhetta's Craig Dykers called Thursday's unveiling "a preview of a preview." But already some intriguing themes are emerging in the design. Perhaps the most striking is Snøhetta's tricky effort to break down or disguise the mass of the addition -- and respect Botta's building -- while giving the new construction enough of its own character and flair to draw excitement (and fund-raising dollars). 

My quick reaction is that the addition is less deferential -- in same ways to its benefit -- than it lets on, or would like to easily admit, or than it has seemed to some critics and observers. The block-like addition is sliced or folded back in a few places. But in scale and flinty personality, the new building is likely to thoroughly outmuscle the old one.

More images are after the jump.

-- Christopher Hawthorne

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Images: Renderings and a sketch of SFMOMA's new wing. Credit: Courtesy SFMOMA/Snohetta.


 
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