The challenge of this project was to make an art sanctuary 75 feet in the air that references the city below it, integrates the disparate forces of the museum itself, the site, and the neighboring urban context and, finally, to create an architecture of order and repose that animates, without overwhelming, the art it serves.
The design is a simple, elegant space, with one large room embracing a series of spaces with distinct personalities. This decentralized scheme has not just one focal point, but several integrated settings in which to find and enjoy art. San Francisco is reflected in the design, the city's character, its waterways, its hilly topography, its structure and order. The landscape combines and juxtaposes background and foreground, varying scales, and a provocative mix of material types, textures, sounds, and colors.
Foremost, our concept of the sculpture garden as a large room transposes the European town square of Botta's atrium lobby to the top of the building. A light bridge - made with a steel structure and metal infill panels like ones currently on the museum - connects the fifth floor to the garden, where the Pavilion's transparent roofing echoes the main rotunda and surfaces of the courtyard walls reference SFMOMA's distinctive white-and-black granite striping.
The undulating roof planes give the sculpture garden an immediate and recognizable identity, despite its remote location. The SFMOMA rooftop architecture now has an iconographic signature, marking its presence both from the street and from surrounding taller buildings.
The conceptualized Pavilion is covered, indoor, and fully conditioned space transitions from the existing museum spaces to the new outdoor sculpture garden. The luminous glass pavilion, floating a few feet above the main surface of the garden, engages the rooftop site, focuses the site lines, and reaffirms the importance of the art works.