Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

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Black glazed tile clads a curved “mega-bay” in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley

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A new market-rate micro-housing project in San Francisco's Hayes Valley—developed in tandem with a new clubhouse for the Boys and Girls Club—features 70 studio and two-bedroom apartments clustered around a courtyard with ample, secure bicycle parking. The wood-framed housing structure sits atop a concrete podium housing retail spaces just off the main Hayes Street corridor. The new construction project continues development of vacated land caused by the collapse and removal of the Central Freeway. The project—designed by David Baker Architects, which has designed and built more than 10,000 dwelling units—achieves a density of 240 bedrooms per acre, and consists of 40-percent two-bedroom units located at each corner and facing the courtyard. This is the result of a policy by the city to allow new residential developments to accommodate families. The other apartments are classified as micro-units, ranging from 325 to 400-square-feet. These compact studio apartments embrace an "affordability by design" concept, which, according to David Baker Architects, has “proven popular with younger professionals, as well as seniors.” One of the most contentious issues of the project was a large corner bay clad in a custom glazed tile. The bay's massing spans the entire end of the building, out of scale when compared with a typical vernacular bay, however, the architects say this feature is rooted in careful planning and urbanistic principles. The positive and negative forms of 388 Fulton and the Richardson Apartments across the street—another project by David Baker Architects—make a frame for the City Hall dome two blocks away.
  • Facade Manufacturer Fireclay Tile (glazed thin brick veneer); James Hardie (fiber-cement siding); Golden State Steel (sun shade fabrication); Peerless Architectural Windows and Doors (aluminum windows)
  • Architects David Baker Architects
  • Facade Installer Fisher Development Inc. (General Contractor)
  • Facade Consultants KPFF Consulting Engineers (Structural Engineer)
  • Location San Francisco, CA
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System wood frame over concrete podium
  • Products Glazed Thin Brick in Inkwell and custom colors by Fireclay Tile; ENERGSAVE by Peerless Architectural Windows and Doors (aluminum windows); HardiPanel & HardieTrim (fiber-cement siding)
The black coloration was produced from custom low fire glazed tile sourced from local clay. An artisan tile company glazed the brick with a palette of five subtle variations on a standard “Inkwell” black color. The architects specified a repeating pattern for the colors, which Baker said sometimes gets mistaken for being a uniform color. "The different tile colors added a richness to the composition, which one color would not have provided." The thin tile was set directly onto a mortar bed over a cement plastered wood-framed wall. Expansion joints coordinate with punched window openings for a clean composition. The stacked bond tile also integrates precisely with vents on the facade, which required careful coordination between the contractor and architect. The windows in the curved mega-bay have a custom extra-deep extrusion to accommodate the thickness of the glazed tiles. Computer analysis from programs like Autodesk Ecotect was used to optimize perforated aluminum sunshades on the curved facade and west-facing windows. Design criteria included the relative amount of solar radiation that would hit each window for different times of the day and year, including shade from the building, neighboring buildings, and sunshades. After several iterations, the design resulted in a combination louver-and-fin for windows along the curved bay, and a vertical fin of varying length along the west-facing facade. The shapes of these elements were standardized into three repeatable configurations for fabrication efficiency while minimizing solar radiation during the afternoons in late spring and early fall, particularly into studio units with challenging western exposure. Baker said the project team integrated a lot of fun detailing into the project: “The large curved bay is the signature of the building, and something we put a lot of energy into. We took fairly humble materials, and made them look crisp and sleek." A trademark example of this design approach is the “random batten system,” a phrase coined by the office for an aesthetically driven approach to installation of fiber-cement trim board. Baker called this "ranch house technology." The assembly calls for standard fiber cement board trim to be applied in a randomized pattern, transforming a ubiquitous board and batten system into what Baker said, "Looks like something that you would order from Italy."
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This pavilion by Kuth Ranieri Architects is made of concrete formwork

' Kuth Ranieri Architects’ pavilion made out of cardboard Sonotubes (prefabricated tubular formwork for casting concrete), created for this year’s Market Street Prototyping Festival in San Francisco, has earned the firm a People’s Choice award. Designed and built alongside three dozen other installations, the pavilion—dubbed SonoGROTTO—is made out of a bundle of cardboard Sonotubes varying between 6, 10, and 24 inches in width that are bolted together and carved into a sheltered seating area. Overall, the pavilion’s proportions are equal to those of a cube, with circular sections carved out from the overall mass. Certain Sonotubes extend all the way to the ground and support the structure while others are sliced up along curving profiles, creating the benches, thresholds, and openings that animate the pavilion. The pavilion, designed to be located on an active street, creates what the designers dub as an urban “grotto,” containing areas sheltered by a vaulted ceiling punctured by an oculus that offers views to the sky. In a press release explaining the project, the architects state, “Porous enough to retain a strong connection with its surroundings, yet enclosed enough to provide a safe haven, SonoGROTTO allows people to explore and rest simultaneously. SonoGROTTO offers a space for reflection, refuge, and a myriad of alternate uses for all ages.” The festival was sponsored by the San Francisco Department of City Planning and Yerba Buena Center for the Art. It's also the by-product of extensive community outreach by the department aimed at uncovering new, innovative ideas for enhancing the quality of life along Market Street in downtown San Francisco. As such, the festival organizers sought to engage at the community level through a design-oriented street festival. The three-day festival brought thousands out onto the Market Street corridor along three areas spanning from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on one end to the Embarcadero on the other to display a myriad of pavilion ideas that spanned in concept from architectural follies and performance-oriented displays to even, a miniature forest.  For more information on the other pavilions, see the festival website.
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BREAKING: MAD Architects reveals alternate proposals for Lucas Museum in San Francisco and Los Angeles

Weeks after dropping a long-stalled bid for a Chicago location, MAD Architects and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art have released a collection of renderings for competing schemes aimed at finding the wandering, proposed museum a welcoming home in either Los Angeles or San Francisco. The firm’s proposal for the Chicago location was scrapped earlier this summer after fierce community opposition to the project, to be located on a coveted site along the city’s waterfront in Grant Park. Despite strong support from the city's political class, the $700-million scheme, reminiscent of a futuristic, pitched tent, was ultimately killed by a lawsuit filed by the local community group known as Friends of The Park. The new proposals, being shopped simultaneously between California’s two largest cities, are being presented as pedestrian-friendly, public spaces for each respective city. Both are arranged with expansive second-floor gallery and exhibition spaces that are lifted up on massive piers that allow for park and pedestrian areas to stretch underneath each complex. Each would be 265,000 and 275,000 square feet of overall interior space, with roughly 100,000 square feet of that dedicated toward gallery functions. The Los Angeles Times states that the overall project cost, including a future endowment for the museum, could potentially top $1 billion.  The San Francisco proposal for is being pitched for the city’s Treasure Island and is being incorporated into the SOM-designed master plan for the island community’s waterfront. The building’s rigid-looking exterior skin, punctured by two expanses of glass swoops, culminates in what—based on renderings released by the firm—appears to be a large auditorium space. Aside from the wavy building, these renderings also depict the building’s surrounding ground floor areas as being hardscaped plaza with pedestrian connections to the surrounding waterfront areas. The Los Angeles proposal, on the other hand, would be located in the city’s University of Southern California-adjacent Exposition Park. Located along the city’s Expo Line light rail line and within proximity of the forthcoming Gensler-designed Los Angeles Football Club soccer stadium, the proposal would cap the slew of other cultural and entertainment destinations in the park. Despite the light rail proximity, the scheme includes a 1,800-spot underground parking garage that the San Francisco locale does not. Also unlike the San Francisco proposal, the Los Angeles scheme would include public open space on its rooftop. Renderings for the proposal show the museum located in a leafy, park setting with people lounging on the knolls surrounding the structure. For now, as always, the schemes continue to be just that: hopeful proposals. Time will tell if one or the other scheme gets selected for either city and, more importantly, if one eventually gets built. A decision regarding the location is expected to be made within the next two- to four-months.
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David Adjaye to master plan expansive San Francisco waterfront development

Just recently it was announced that David Adjaye, founder of London and New York-based Adjaye Associates, will helm The San Francisco Shipyard development. According to The Registry, he will be the project's "master plan architect and creative director." This comes on the heels of the National Museum of African History and Culture's opening; that project saw Adjaye as the lead designer working alongside the Freelon Group (now Perkins+Will), Davis Brody Bond, and SmithGroupJJR. The area in question is located southeast of downtown San Francisco in the Hunters Point area. The website of FivePoint, who's developing the project, says The Shipyard "includes approximately 800 acres of bayfront property." The website adds that the site will "include approximately 12,000 homesites and roughly 4.1 million square feet of commercial space, making it one of the largest developments of its kind in the history of San Francisco." A sweeping map on the project's website shows a mix of open spaces—over 350 acres—and low-to-medium rise development with a few towers interspersed. The project's shopping and entertainment component will include "1 million square feet of urban retail" and "gourmet restaurant village" while the arts and innovation neighborhood will feature a "5 million-square-foot waterfront R&D center" and "working studios and exhibition spaces for 300 artists." "Sustainable living" is also a key selling point, with native plant landscaping, the restoration of native habitats, and land trails for bikers and runners and water trails for kayakers and canoers. According to The Registry, this is the second phase of the project, with Adjaye's plan building upon the work of New York City-based IBI Architects.
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Tech behemoth Microsoft selected young San Francisco firm Blitz to design its flagship office

“You could say we were the underdogs,” Blitz principal and CEO Melissa Hanley said about being selected to design Microsoft’s flagship office in one of San Francisco’s most notable buildings, 555 California Street. “Microsoft challenged a lot of things with this project, from hiring a tiny little baby firm like us to selecting a transparent site in San Francisco.”

Aside from facing the obstacles of being a small architecture firm tapped to create an office for one of the largest technology companies in the world, Blitz had to work within the restraints of 555 California Street (formerly the Bank of America Center). Art Gensler was brought on to design the tower’s indoor space when the building opened in 1969, and he’s credited by some as the inventor of commercial interior architecture. “There was a great deal of responsibility to not mess it up,” Hanley said.

Hanley and her team treated working within the iconic building’s structure and Microsoft’s “global design guidelines” (hundreds of parameters for everything from the conference rooms to staff algorithms) as a huge, complex puzzle. To take the stakes one notch higher, the office was downsizing from a 90,000-square-foot space to a 43,500-square-foot space, and employees were understandably concerned.

In an attempt to solve all of these challenges with one elegant solution, “We really focused on the idea of neighborhood design,” Hanley said. “We broke up a sea of desks into groups of 18 to 30 users, and every ‘neighborhood’ has familiar touch points such as lockers for flex employees, water, trash, etc.” Each neighborhood is a different bright color, which offers easy wayfinding and furthers employees’ sense of home. The layout offers equal access to front-row views of the cityscape from the 265 windows on the site.

The office also showcases Microsoft’s latest technology to customers. Upon entering the lobby, visitors walk up a 30-foot-tall staircase to a landing featuring an interactive, virtual moss wall. “It is technical, fun, and childlike,” Hanley said. “It’s a place where people can pause and think about their journey into the space.” Blitz echoed the moss wall with real living walls throughout the space, a slightly surreal move that blurs the borders between reality and technology. The firm extended the outdoor, organic aesthetic with textural flooring and canopies wrapped in a bleached-cork covering that resembles birch.

Although the project was a game changer for Blitz, which now has three ongoing projects with Microsoft in addition to work for Comcast and Yahoo, it was also pivotal for Microsoft. “Before this office, Microsoft was located in the outskirts of the city; it was almost like a castle in the sky,” Hanley said. “Now it is downtown, it is transparent, it engages with the city, and all the stuff that goes on outside its windows influences it day-to-day.”

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Endemic Architecture plays with San Francisco’s vernacular architecture

Mind Your Mannerisms, a research-based exhibition by Oakland, California’s Endemic Architecture was on view at Jai & Jai Gallery in L.A.’s Chinatown. Clark Thenhaus, principal at Endemic Architecture, described the underlying thesis of the exhibition as one of working through a ubiquitous architectural feature of his newly adopted city, where turrets are part of the accepted vernacular, inscribed within the city’s zoning code, and sometimes clash with more prosaic urban issues like lack of affordable housing and a need for increased density. The exhibition includes line drawings showcasing existing variants of the corner turret, as well as new hypothetical configurations created by the designers as they process and attempt to understand the underlying tendencies of the eccentric and ornamented Victorian forms. These hypothetical configurations are recreated in approximately half-scale mock ups, some of which use full-scale building components salvaged from existing turrets.
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Japanese joinery with modern flair defines this San Francisco ramen spot

The recent proliferation of oh-so-chic ramen joints in cities across the country can sometimes mask what it is really all about: The ramen. In Japan, this fast, fragrant, noodle-and-broth dish is often found in nondescript establishments, tucked away from the bustling street. At Orenchi Beyond, the restaurant chain’s first San Francisco location, the ramen is front and center, starting with a floating, open kitchen anchoring the 1,800-square-foot space where patrons can see chefs at work behind a row of large, boiling soup pots. Taking its cue from Japan’s street culture and indigenous craftsmanship, the restaurant, designed by local firm Craig Steely Architecture, fuses the unfussy, Japanese-style ramen shop with a West Coast design sensibility.

To maximize the outdoor connection and exploit the temperate San Francisco climate, principal and founder Craig Steely decided to knock down the existing facade, which originally stood flat across the front of the building, and push it back 12 feet to create what he describes as an “interstitial room” or an “engawa space” between the street and restaurant interior. “In Japan, there isn’t that luxury to have this whole space, and it seemed like such a perfect opportunity,” Steely explained. “It feels different from other restaurants in the city where there is a hard, demarcating line. Here it is really indoor-outdoor and welcoming—eating and drinking outside is nice and communal. It’s a real mix of private and public space.”

The prismlike facade, punctuated by a red glass door, is made of Sakura wood and quietly references Japanese woodworking. “It was an attempt to build upon a language of Japanese carpentry,” said Steely. “I took the idea of those details and built it in a way that appreciates or riffs on Japanese joinery without it being authentically Japanese.” The permeable storefront allows for customers to be served outside through the windows.

In typical Japanese style, the restaurant bears no sign—in many ways, the crowd congregating outside around a 4,000-pound Yuba River basalt rock is the unofficial signage. Of course, the line of sake bottles in the window is also a not-so-subtle clue as to what lies inside.

Painstaking attention was paid to the details to reflect and pay homage to Japanese traditions, from the visual iconography to the craftsmanship. The stool seating is based on sake barrels, the brackets and handles are made of elm branches by artist Kenji Hasegawa, and the interior wood is from Paul Discoe’s Joinery Structures, who has worked on projects in Japan for several decades.

Contrasting this otherwise muted space are a massive, candy-colored mural of a fractal bear by local artists Ricardo Richey and Chad Hasegawa and tables featuring paintings with imagery from Japanese myths and Yakuza films, such as a dragon in the form of ramen with its tail spelling out “Orenchi.” For a restaurant named the “Beyond,” this West-meets-farther-West space is wholly appropriate.

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Renderings revealed for Foster + Partners’ Waldorf Astoria in San Francisco

Renders have been revealed of what the Foster + Partners design for the Waldorf Astoria hotel in San Francisco could look like. Located in the South of Market (SoMa) district of the city, the building will sit on Mission Street between 1st and Eckert streets. The 21-story tower will also lie next to the Oceanwide Center tower designed by the British architecture firm, due to break ground in November this year. The tower is part of a two million-square-foot complex that will boast retail and spaces, the interiors of which—and indeed the whole interior of the building—will be designed by Santa Monica–based hospitality design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates. John Vanderslice, global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton Worldwide (the firm that manages Waldorf hotels), told Condé Nast Traveler that "San Francisco needed a proper luxury hotel." He went on to say that the "project is ground zero for luxury there" adding how the hotel will have "north of 250" rooms with a quarter of these being suites. Numerous restaurants are also due to be included in the programming of the scheme however, no mockups have yet been proposed with no chefs currently named either. The project will also be one of cluster from Foster + Partners in the vicinity. In 2014, the firm proposed a coterie of high-rises for the area and planning permission was granted this year. The building will also become San Francisco's second tallest tower, behind the Salesforce Tower. Meanwhile, rising to 905 feet, the tallest of the group will be located on 50 1st Street and contain 34 stories, with offices on 19 plus 111 residential units. Another tower, due to be 300 feet shorter, will offer 169 hotel rooms with 154 units being housed in the top 33 floors. Speaking of the projects in 2014, Norman Foster described the development as "incredibly exciting in urban and environmental terms," adding that "bringing together places to live and work with the city’s most important transport hub, the project further evolves a sustainable model of high density, mixed-use development that we have always promoted."
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San Francisco’s Millennium Tower is tilting and sinking

The tallest residential tower in San Francisco, and the city's third tallest overall, has sunk 16 inches since it's opening in 2008, according to SFGate. Designed by Handel Architects, the Millennium Tower is one of the highest-profile buildings in the city with units selling as high as $12 million for a penthouse, one of which was owned by venture capitalist Thomas Perkins until his death earlier this year. Other notable residents include San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence and former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. Currently the Transbay Transit Center, a transit station and neighborhood development project, is under construction on an adjacent site. Its first phase is due to be completed in late 2017, but a study of the site conducted by Arup in 2010 found that the tower had already sunk ten inches. Initial predictions for the tower suggested that it would only sink six inches over its lifetime. Of added concern is the fact that the tower is not settling evenly, and now has a tilt of two inches. Professor Greg Deierlein of the John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center at Stanford University told SFGate that these figures were "significant...and of concern," but not yet a threat to safety. However, the imbalance can lead to expensive maintenance costs down the road due to cracking walls and other structural issues. The Transbay Transit Center and the building's developer, Millennium Partners, have each placed blame for the tilt on the other. P.J. Johnson, a spokesperson for Millennium Partners, told SFGate that the nearby construction on the Transit Center caused the problem, suggesting that adequate measures were not taken to protect the tower during the excavation. Representatives of the Transit Center, on the other hand, have suggested that Millennium engineers cut costs and failed to anchor the building into the bedrock. The building also uses concrete rather than steel, and is therefore much heavier. It's unclear what steps developers will take to combat the issue, but it will likely involve expensive and complicated repairs.
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Jill Magid transforms Luis Barragán’s ashes into a two-carat diamond

In her latest multimedia work, American artist Jill Magid has converted the cremated ashes of Pritzker Prize-winning Mexican architect Luis Barragán into a two-carat diamond. The Proposal, as the overall work is known, incorporates Magid’s long-running engagement with public access, institutionalized power, and artistic legacy by orchestrating a trade between the Mexican government, Barragán’s estate, and Federica Zanco, Director of the Barragán Foundation, in order to return a key component of Barragán’s archives back to his native Mexico. Barragán originally divided up his archives into two separate components. One, consisting of his home in Mexico, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Casa Barragán, and personal archives, remains intact in the architect’s home country. The second, a professional archive including rights to his name, works, and all photographs taken of his architecture, were purchased by Chairman and heir of Swiss furniture company Vitra Rolf Fehlbaum in 1995 as an engagement present for Zanco, then his girlfriend, and have been stored out of public view in a vault in Switzerland ever since. Magid’s work pivots on the artist’s ability to strategically cultivate personal relationships with wealth and power in order to subvert the structures of corporate ownership. In a press release for the project, Magid explained the impetus for the work: “What happens to an artist’s legacy when it is owned by a corporation and subject to a country’s laws where none of his architecture exists? Who can access it? Who can’t?” The Proposal was commissioned by San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and exists as an art exhibition curated by Hesse McGraw, SFAI Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs. Magid’s work is currently on view at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen in St. Gallen, Switzerland until August 21, 2016 after which it will make its American debut at SFAI on September 9, 2016. The Proposal will also be presented at the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016, opening on Sept 8, 2016.
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wHY-designed Asian Art Museum moves toward approval

wHY’s virtual monopoly on commissions for expanding West Coast art museums may continue this week when their plans for expanding San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum are presented to the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission for approval. According to a memo submitted to the San Francisco Planning Commission, the project aims to add a single story, $25 million wing to the landmarked 1916 Beaux Arts structure for “cutting edge” contemporary art. The structure will be wrapped in criss-crossing bands of aluminum and topped by a roof patio and canopy. The addition would contain a long-span exhibition hall as well as mechanically ventilated art conservation facilities. The original neoclassical structure was designed as San Francisco’s first Main Library in 1916 by Ecole des Beaux-Arts-trained architect George A. Kelham, who also designed San Francisco’s Federal Reserve Bank headquarters and served as the supervising architect for the construction of the University of California, Berkeley campus between 1927 and 1931. In 1987, then-Mayor of San Francisco Dianne Feinstein proposed to revitalize the Civic Center area containing the Main Library with a plan that would include converting the structure to museum use. The building was finally converted in 1996 by architect Gae Aulenti and has been home of the Asian Art Museum since 2003. Because the structure was constructed during the Civic Center Landmark District’s period of significance, spanning from 1906 to 1936, wHY’s addition will have to adhere to Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation & Appendix J of Article 10 to insure the proposed project does not destroy or damage any of the contributing elements of the building. In recent months, wHY has seen their share of museum and gallery expansion projects increase drastically, with proposals for Los Angeles’s new Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation, and San Francisco’s Gagosian Gallery outpost.
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Will San Franciscans embrace the new SFMOMA?

In 1995, as Mario Botta’s brand new San Francisco Museum of Art debuted, critic Pilar Viladas wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times, “San Francisco’s MOMA Moment: Mario Botta designed an interior that is sublime. But what happened to the rest of the new museum?” A similar question has been on architecture critics’ minds since Snøhetta’s $305 million expansion to Botta’s original opened to the press on April 28.

The original building was designed as an outpost for culture in a downtrodden area, a muscle man for the artistically curious. Now, billions are pouring into the area with a regional transit center, 5.4-acre elevated park, and new highrise neighborhood planned adjacent to the museum. And so, SFMOMA is evolving to reflect downtown San Francisco’s new inflection point. Interestingly, SFMOMA’s board of directors has done what those of other major national museums like New York City’s Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art, and Los Angeles’s LACMA have not: Drastically expand and reorganize gallery space without demolishing their existing museum or having to relocate to an entirely new building. Snøhetta was tasked with constructing a real building, whereas OMA and Michael Graves Architecture merely proposed similar ideas in their respective Whitney proposals decades ago. But if Viladas’s assertion that Botta’s original was ugly on the outside was proven ultimately false—San Franciscans seem to love the original SFMOMA through and through—Snøhetta’s expansion begs a new, complicated question: What happened to the rest of the old museum?

Snøhetta’s point of view in that regard is a standard one: Emphasize the existing through opposition. The 235,000-square-foot expansion grows out of the original structure’s backside and then rises ten stories above. By filling the narrow site to capacity and adding a new entrance along Howard Street, the architects greatly expanded the program’s public areas. Like in the original museum, the first three floors will be free to the public, a group that now includes all San Franciscans aged 18 and under.

This new entry features a maze of interlocking double height spaces, including a wood-clad amphitheater overlooking a pair of Richard Serra’s Sequence sculptures. The new amphitheater and Botta’s existing monumental rotunda meet at the second floor, creating “a living room for San Francisco,” as Craig Dykers, principal of Snøhetta, relayed during a guided tour. The proportions of this new “living room” are more intimate in nature than Botta’s proud entry. Snøhetta has retooled that existing entry by replacing the original oversize white switchback stairway with a low-slung wood one. Drawing comparisons to the firm’s prior Oslo Operahuset where the plane of the roof is sloped to allow pedestrian access from surrounding streets, Dykers said, “You feel ownership over a space when you can walk on the roof.” That’s a funny way to describe being on the second floor of a ten-story building, but what Snøhetta really did is bring the street indoors by luring up pedestrians from a variety of approaches.

The third floor contains dedicated photography galleries as well as a buzzing coffee shop. A large grow wall and outdoor Calder plaza flank this floor’s entry landing, creating a cool and shaded space teeming with growing things and art objects that grants museumgoers their first real glance at the museum’s icy east facade. From there up, gallery spaces stack neatly and predictably, joined for two floors by existing galleries in the Botta building.

The remaining floors above are accessed by a maze of single-run and increasingly narrow blonde wood staircases Dykers likens to those in a private home. The simultaneously jagged and swoopy perimeters of the staircases are offset by minimalist detailing. Treads, framed by Alvar Aalto-inspired hand rails, are embedded in the wall at the curved side only to pull away from it again in a reveal along the angular boundary. At your feet, singular lengths of stained planks mark the beginning and end of each stair run. “Everything your body touches is made of wood,” Lara Kaufman, project architect for the expansion, explained of the “floating,” ergonomic design of the galleries’ wood floors.

The galleries themselves are obsessive in their minimalist articulation. Dykers said outlets, return air grilles, and lighting subconsciously distract the art viewer and that the firm’s goal was to disappear these components in the gallery spaces. The team was also careful to position overhead lighting in specially calibrated vaulting that complements the galleries’ eastward-facing glazing.

The “contemporary” gallery on the seventh floor showcases recent work in a space with exposed ductwork and framing above the exhibition walls. The three floors above it are dedicated to staff offices.

Ultimately, Snøhetta’s team has made an unambiguous and honest effort to address the complicated calculus involved in adding onto a beloved art institution in a dense urban environment. As with the original structure, only time will tell how San Francisco takes to its new modern art museum.