Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Architect Chosen for Berkeley Museum

Today the University of California, Berkeley announced that Japanese architect Toyo Ito has been selected to design the new building for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The new facility will replace (in a different location) the cantilevered concrete Modernist building by Mario Ciampi and associates, which which opened in 1970. In the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Ciampi building was judged to be seismically unsound.

Several months ago, the university announced the five finalists for this commission—an exhilarating list of international talents. The choice of Toyo Ito is interesting. This will be his first major project in the U.S, according to the press release. He has done many buildings in Japan, where he was born in 1941. His work is known for a sense of lightness and transparency and to some extent for its references to organic forms.

The new structure will be located on a sizable parcel of land in downtown Berkeley, a block from the Berkeley BART station. This should attract more visitors from San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area. The museum has managed to carry out a distinguished art exhibition program despite limited resources, and the film archive (also on a modest budget) has offered the public an extraordinary film program for decades. It will be wonderful to have these resources more easily accessible.

Here are a few photos of architecture by Toyo Ito and Associates. First, two shots of the Tower of Winds (Yokohama, Japan), which is a ventilation and water tank facility atop a shopping center. It appears as an aluminum column by day but becomes transparent at night, with lighting effect activated by wind and sound:

Now, two shots of the Sendai Mediatheque (Sendai, Japan), a cultural center:

A shot of a building in Tokyo for the Italian fashion house Tod’s:

Finally, a model for the Taichung Opera House (Taiwan):

Picture sources:

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