Photo: Courtesy Scofidio + Renfro.

Photo: Courtesy Scofidio + Renfro.

Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, & Charles Renfro 


The architect discusses the design concepts behind two DS+R projects in California, a new home for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) and Stanford’s McMurtry Building for the Department of Art and Art History:


The move [of the BAM/PFA] to downtown Berkeley was a response to several issues, one of which was the fragility of the Mario Ciampi building [which the museum occupied from 1970 to 2014]. The second was a retrenchment from the iconic, starchitecture-driven museums of the pre-recession. And the third was a desire for museums to be participants of the city and not stand off from the city—to be welcoming, engaging, transparent, and attractive.

Many of our projects operate in a kind of dialectical method where there are two sides to the story. At Stanford there are two interlocking strands: the art history strand and the art-making strand. Those two sides of the program embrace and support each other. At the BAM/PFA, the existing building is a taut, Art Deco printing plant and administration building, and the new, sculpted addition is primarily a form determined by the theater of the Pacific Film Archive. [The addition] is expressive and enigmatic, more of a cipher. But it also leans on the existing building and embraces it, almost literally wrapping its arm over the existing building in a symbiotic way.

In recent years, there’s been such a trend in architecture toward multidisciplinarity and open space, open source, and shared space that enables—or forces—cross-disciplinary discourse to happen. At Stanford, what we sought to do was to make a new series of spaces that operate in a third language, that’s neither specific to a kind of program nor is the forced collaborative space that you hear about so much. It’s this third space of possibility that allows for serendipitous encounter, new ways of teaching and learning, but it doesn’t force those activities onto people. —As told to Dave Kim



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