Thursday, May 26, 2011

Design for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)'s New Wing and Solution for Boxy Metreon, San Francisco

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) just unveiled its preliminary design for the new wing, which will host the a very exciting Fisher Collection

The new building is a slim but tall structure, however, it manages to be rather subtle and unimposing to the wonderful existing building and its immediate environment.  It is basically a box with elegant curved accents, and unlike some fanciful new museums, though themselves wonderful artistic creation, often failed miserably to serve as exhibition space.  I hope and trust the new wing to SFMOMA would not be a challenge to curators.

This news reminded me a recent architecture story in San Francisco - the Metreon Building's makeover.  The boxy, faceless Metreon did get a makeover but it can't escape its box.  San Francisco Chronicle reported:
There's a rich cultural yarn in the saga of San Francisco's Metreon, about how a gimmicky and failed world unto itself will be reborn as a place designed to draw strength from the city around it.

Goodbye, virtual bowling alley. Hello, Target!

But there's also an architectural lesson in the block-long complex with its front door at Fourth and Mission streets: Once a developer makes a huge mistake, it's hard to set things right.

The four-story, 360,000-square-foot space now being retooled for a 2012 reopening will be a vast improvement over the "ultimate entertainment experience" that Sony unveiled with fanfare in 1999. At least 12 stores and restaurants will open directly to the sidewalk. The interior layout will finally take full advantage of the 64-foot-high glass wall that faces lively Yerba Buena Gardens.

What won't change, alas, is the blank boxiness of the silvery metal-skinned structure - and both Target and the city are passing up chances to make the block more dynamic.

For the boxiness of the Metreon, I think a good solution is to invite artists to create static and video projections and present various light shows, therefore turning the shortcoming into virtue.  Below are a few amazing light shows can work well for Metreon:

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