Saturday, January 30, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) re-opened for a members' preview. Their new building was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who also design the ICA in Boston and The Broad in LA.
The building design is a combination of old and new; it's the former UC Berkeley printing plant, with the addition of a new cinema/theater and a connecting spine of stainless steel. The printing plant cues of art deco were preserved, and the functional north-facing saw-tooth sky-lights were re-created to fill the gallery spaces with natural light. There is a bit of a fiction that you are in the old printing plant; it is a new building behind an existing facade.
You enter along Center Street, below the extended terminus of the spine, and are brought into a large collection space. In front of you a multi-story hall, below the spine, leads to the theater; to your left, the space spills down to a wooden seating area. The main gallery spaces are wide and open, allowing plenty of room for installations and media pieces.
There is a tall, triangular sliver of a lobby for the theater; it's unclear how BAMPFA will use the space. The theater itself seems an excellent space to watch movies. On the second level, along the balcony over-looking the main hall is the cafe. Awkwardly, the end of the spine over-hanging Center Street is not a feature space - currently housing some small plants.
The second level, and the view looking down the spine as well as into the galleries below, is filled with wonderful shapes and counter-pointed lighting effects.
Take the fire-red stairs to the lower level and arrive at the galleries for the permanent collection, as well as the study and research areas. These galleries feel a bit less generous than the ones upstairs; a separate long gallery with a butcher-block floor houses the buddha.
Looking forward to vistiing during regular hours and getting to know the building.