At the meeting point between the City of Berkeley and the historic University campus, the new BAMPFA stands as a bridge institution, balancing civic and university interests, aligning its location with its mission as a nexus of aesthetic experience and critical discourse for the university and the community. The 1939 University of California Press Building, an industrial space with an expressive steel frame and a series of sawtooth north-facing skylights, has been re-purposed to house galleries, a small theater, art-making lab, and other amenities. It is sliced by a new structure – a cipher -- housing a film theater, film library, multiple study centers, and café. The soft, supple body of the cipher is draped between adjacent orthogonal buildings and snagged on their sharp corners, creating a dramatic public spine. This radical overlay of old and new creates dynamic intersections – across time-periods, styles, disciplines, and programs – while facilitating a cultural hub with a more porous interface with the street.
Through a language of adaptive reuse, strategic excavation and surgical addition, the former Press Building will house eight galleries of varying sizes and characteristics, including an abundance of daylight. The form of the Osher Theater reinterprets the 1930’s Streamline Moderne style of the Press Building in a contemporary language of ruled surfaces and precision-formed stainless steel. The sleek outer body is echoed by a striated interior and the warm-colored highlights line the inside of the silvery shell. On the Addison Street end, the cipher hovers above an open excavation, exposing the library and study centers to passersby. The north end of the cipher contains a large format projection screen within and a corresponding high resolution LED screen outside for free, public viewing. At the opposite end, the new form is counterbalanced by a café dramatically cantilevered over Center Street serving as the museum’s marquee.