Aerial view of the new BAM/PFA showing the corner of Addison (foreground) and Oxford streets. The new design reunites BAM with the film theater. BAM needs to move out of its current building due to concerns about seismic safety. Rendering: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Construction work has begun on the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive which, all things going well, is slated to open in the summer of 2016, bringing bold contemporary architecture into the heart of Berkeley.

The UC Berkeley-owned museum, which includes the Pacific Film Theater, has raised $95 million worth of pledges towards the $100 million goal it needed to create a new home on Center St. at Oxford, the site of a former printing plant owned by the university. The new BAM/PFA is to be designed by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, architects of New York’s High Line and several museums, including the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C.

BAM/PFA has been planning to move since 1997 when it was determined that its current building on Bancroft Way — built in 1970 and designed by Mario Ciampi — did not meet present-day seismic standards. It cannot be upgraded without eliminating open exhibition spaces required for the galleries. 

View of the new museum from Oxford St. looking towards entrance on Center St. Rendering: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

“This is an incredible milestone for this campaign, now a full decade in the making,” BAM/PFA Director Lawrence Rinder said in a release. “We will be forever grateful to all of those individuals who have offered commitments to the campaign, not to mention the campus and Berkeley communities who have given their overwhelming support and goodwill to the project.”

Donors include Barclay Simpson, Cal alumnus, businessman and philanthropist, and a member of the BAM/PFA Board of Trustees, who said, “The arts are a critical part of civil society and education and this new building will ensure that UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley have a world class visual arts center befitting these communities for at least the next century.”

The design for the new museum calls for a new structure to be built onto the existing 1930s printing plant that will anchor the corner of Oxford and Addison Streets. A café will project outwards over the main entrance.

BAM interior
A gallery at the new museum: the new building will house BAM/PFA’s exhibition galleries, learning center,
participatory art-making studio, works-on-paper study center, store, café, and offices. Rendering: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Construction will be overseen by Plant Construction Company, which has already begun work on site planning and mobilization. The early phases of construction focus on interior work in the existing building, including salvaging reusable materials and preparing for demolition of the adjacent parking structure. EHDD of San Francisco is the architect of record for the project.

More extensive — and more visible — work will get under way this spring. Construction is targeted for completion summer 2015 with the new facility opening to the public in early 2016.

Berkeley Art Museum’s new architect talks bubbles, chops [05.04.12]
Palpable possibilities: Berkeley Art Museum’s home awaits [01.25.12]
New Berkeley Art Museum mixes old with eye-catching new [09.16.11]
Berkeley Art Museum selects architects for new home [06.24.11]
Berkeley Art Museum seeks architect, again [05.20.11]
UC Berkeley stands by pledge to fund new art museum [11.25.10]
Berkeley Art Museum plans to revamp printing plant [01.27.10]
What might have been [11.24.09]

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out All the News.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...