Opinion

New SFMOMA Building Kind of Looks Like a Glacier

SF MoMA expansion, nighttime aerial view (all images courtesy of Snøhetta)

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art just unveiled the designs for their new building, and it looks like … a granite glacier fit into a skinny city block? Developed by Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, the expansion will add over 225,000 square feet to the museum.

Maybe the building’s aesthetic isn’t particularly surprising given Snøhetta’s Nordic origins and awesome name — the word refers to a Norwegian mountaintop. Sitting behind SFMOMA’s funky original building with its sky-facing striped oculus, the new building is a muscular, monumental presence that fits more cleanly into the city block, as aerial views show.

SFMOMA expansion, northeast facade

Despite its imposing presence, the building’s footprint also leaves room for a human presence: “The new building does not push tightly against its property lines; instead it creates new public spaces and pedestrian routes through the neighborhood along with open views of the surrounding streetscape,” writes Snøhetta architect Craig Dykers in a press release.

Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times writes that the new design has a “flinty personality,” perhaps most visible in the building’s rock-like textured skin shown off in the renderings (seen above). Still, the critic cautions, these designs are by no means finalized.

SFMOMA has raised more than $250 million toward a projected $480 million campaign goal for the expansion, including $100 million for the museum’s endowment. While we’re waiting for funds to be raised and ground to be broken, let’s all salivate over the images of what will be.

SFMOMA expansion, Howard Street view
SFMOMA expansion, sketch of northeast facade
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