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Toyo Ito’s first US project Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

The University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) has commissioned Toyo Ito & Associates for the refurbishment of its building.

The project planning started in 1997, when a survey found that the museum’s facilities were not in line with the seismic standards. Ito, who has been working on the architectural concept since 2006, should see his design completed by the end of 2009, and the Museum will open in 2013.

The ambitious plan foresees an enlargement of the building by 40%, with the new structure conceived as a simple three-story box, and each level divided into 16 squares.

The first floor will house two theatres, five exhibition galleries, a museum store, café and other visitors’ facilities; the second floor will have eight galleries, a screening room, the Conceptual Art Study Center, a learning center, and a library; the third floor with seven galleries, will dedicate its attention to work on paper and on the Asian Art Collection.

The whole structure will be equipped with the most up-to-date and flexible technologies, and become one of the most environmentally sustainable museum buildings in the world.

The project reflects Ito’s idea about the new icon building: “The grid erodes, creating a fluid form.” The fluid steel exterior will be curved to meet the dramatic towering windows; on the other hand the interior will be constituted of interlocking spaces with curved walls throughout the structure. The gallery walls will enable movement between the exhibition areas like curtains, and the transparent ground-floor façade will be an invitation to the public to explore the Museum space, which will offer different activities and possibilities of interaction.