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More SFMOMA Front Runners! Critics Say List Is 'Predictable'

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The closed-door sessions that are producing SFMOMA's architect shortlist for expansion are flapping in the wind a bit — yesterday, following Curbed's Monday reveal of six of the eight purported firms on the list, the SF Business Times put their own ear to the ground and came up with more names in the running: Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos (he's also working on the Mexican Museum at 706 Mission St), Swiss architect and Pritzker Prize winner Peter Zumthor, and Foster + Partners (recently kicked to the curb from the U.N. Plaza federal building rehab). What's more, rather than a list of eight, up to "a dozen design firms" are being discussed by SFMOMA's board members, under the advisement of a director of research and planning at the California College of Arts. The three new names join the six dropped on Monday: David Adjaye, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, OMA, Snøhetta, and Renzo Piano. While SFMOMA is "communicating with various architects, who obviously are talking to other folks," museum PR wrote in an email yesterday that they "can't confirm nor deny anything at this point."

But assuming the names are legit, there's enough meat here to see what SFMOMA's going for. Having opted for an invitational competition, rather than throwing the doors wide open to design submissions, the museum has hand-picked for themselves a list of superstar names certain to bring in glory and big headlines (it's working so far!). Unfortunately for local firms, that also means SFMOMA's expansion won't be their shot at the big time — one architect called the revelation "very disappointing."

Meanwhile, Christopher Hawthorne, the architecture critic down at the LA Times, hasn't exactly been blown away by the names that have surfaced so far. In a tweet yesterday afternoon, he wrote: "SFMOMA expansion shortlist ... being called roster of starchitects. I'd say usual suspects circa 5-10 yrs ago." Elaborating on the Culture Monster blog, he added: "My quick reaction to the group of firms is that it is heavy on talent and museum experience but also predictable." Former Dwell editor Allison Arieff agreed. And in the sourest tweet on it yet, one NYC-based architecture critic wrote, "I think they don't know what they want, a bad sign." 'Course, with nothing confirmed or denied, SFMOMA can always come out with a more crowd-pleasing shortlist at a later date, and make good with jilted architect and critic alike before day's end.

P.S. We hope John King comes out to play too.

· SFMOMA architects in play [SF Business Times]
· Familiar list of architects for SFMOMA expansion [Culture Monster]
· Architect Shortlist for SFMOMA's Expansion Goes for Heavy Hitters [Curbed SF]
· SFMOMA Lands $250 Mil for New Wing, Says They're Halfway There [Curbed SF]