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Stair Master
Snohetta unveils entry stair unifying old and new at SFMOMA.
Courtesy Snohetta / SFMOMA

On November 14, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) unveiled its Snøhetta-designed grand stair, which will bring visitors from the museum’s existing Haas Atrium into the Norwegian/American firm’s 235,000-square-foot expansion. The new facility, now under construction, is scheduled to be completed by early 2016.

The new stair—which will be more open than the museum’s current entry stair—will allow Mario Botta’s atrium to display much more art, it will bring in more natural light through the existing oculus, which will now be completely exposed, and it will better facilitate circulation. It will welcome visitors into Snøhetta’s second floor Art Court, a new nexus for the museum.

SFMOMA director Neal Benezra praised the stair’s “beautiful floating geometry and open feel,” and noted how it merged the Botta and Snøhetta buildings into a seamless experience.

The wood-clad stair will take a switchback on the way up, a move meant to encourage visitors to look out at the atrium. Snøhetta principal Craig Dykers called this a “landscape moment” inspired by the switchbacks prevalent on the city’s steep hills.

Sam Lubell