Seemingly not content with the immense responsibility and honour that comes with designing the National September 11 Memorial and Museum on the site of New York's 'Ground Zero', Norway's Snøhetta Architecture firm are also charged now with the tricky task of expanding the all but "built in" San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).
Unveiled this week in San Francisco, the design has been fairly well received by press and public alike. Swiss Architect Mario Botta's original design sees the mass of the brick clad structure stepping away from the street as it is restricted on three sides. Unable to go up or left or right, Snøhetta have capitalised on the sliver of land behind the site and have extended the reach as far as possible within the confined footprint they have been afforded. Already being likened to a cruise ship in shape we cant help but think it might more closely resemble a Sandcrawler from Star Wars, that said, the development will enable more outdoor use of space creating sculpture gardens on rooftops as well as additional entry points and a dynamic interplay with what is very much a high-rise, urban environment.
Cleverly, the sheer scale of the addition and its visual impact is somewhat reduced by way of the occassional slices and terraces that ripple along the buildings 100 metre length. The intention was to tie the building visually to it's older sister yet still very much hold it's own in character and inject it with a successful use of space in what is an awkardly proportioned site. The new building almost seems to cheekily peer over the shoulder of Botta's Post-Modern design.
Expanding to accommodate the huge collection of Modern Art bequeathed by the late founder of Gap Clothing: Donald Fisher, the internal spaces and exterior assembly are still far from finalised with the designers terming this weeks press gathering as more a "preview of a preview".