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Berkeley Art Museum: Game On for Toyo Ito

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New deets are out on Japanese architect Toyo Ito's new building for the Berkeley Art Museum, the plans for which first dropped a few months back. Ito bases many of his designs on the grid, and the new BAM-to-be is no exception: the gallery walls form a grid-like pattern, undulating to form several floors' worth of variegated spaces, which should suit a collection that ranges from the traditional to the ephemeral. (Did you know that BAM was one of the first institutions to collect conceptual art in the 1960's? Well, you do now.)

Note that the existing Mario Ciampi-designed museum won't get the wrecking ball— it will undergo a seismic retrofit and be put to alternate use. As for the current space, Chron's John King considers it an inflexible one: "the wide-open form and stone-hard structure limits its adaptability to new forms of art, such as video installations." A simple read, if we do say. Sure, the space is far from perfect, but anyone who caught Tomás Saraceno's installation of floating "inhabitable spaces" a few months back (suspended from the ceiling, no less) might agree that it's not that rigid an exhibitions space. Hell, we've even seen a painting or two hang from time to time. Back to Ito ...

The serial pattern of the building's design will allow it to self-support; walls will consist, remarkably, of three inches of concrete pressed to a two inch-thick steel plate (read: no steel columns), a methodology common in his buildings. King's description is spot-on: the think really does look like an "easygoing egg carton." This fluid structural approach hasn't been attempted in the U.S. before.

While the Chron (as per the museum, we're guessing) claims that existing outbuildings will be demolished in 2010 with the new space set to open in 2013, we're going to guess otherwise. Judging by what we know about institutional fund raising, we predict delays— the museum's capital campaign hasn't yet gone public yet, a sign that it's not yet close to raising the $120 million in private funds needed to build. Much hope for the museum though, and a sleek new building in crunchtastic Berkeley can't hurt things, either. Commence with the construction watch.
· Box of plenty: design for Berkeley art museum [SF Gate]
· BAM/PFA [website— note Ito multimedia hottness]
· CurbedWire: Toyo Ito's Berkeley Art Museum Plans Revealed [Curbed SF]

[Plans and renderings courtesy Berkeley Art Museum via the San Francisco Chronicle]