SFMOMA Rooftop Garden
History / Background In the spring of 2006 the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art held a limited design competition for an expansion to their existing five-story facility designed by Mario Botta. The project brief called for a new Sculpture Garden to be located on top of their adjacent parking structure with provisions for a physical link between the two structures. Program Summary The project consists of four major elements: an outdoor sculpture garden, an all-glass enclosed garden pavilion, a glazed bridge, and an expansion to the existing fifth floor galleries. Additionally, a support wing has been designed to serve these new spaces including a café located within the Pavilion. The project provides a 30% increase to the overall museum exhibition space with 8,800 square feet dedicated to the display of outdoor sculpture. Design Summary The SFMOMA Rooftop Garden was conceived as a gallery without a ceiling, defined by the intersection of sculpture, space and light, serving as a quiet, contemplative space for viewing art and hosting the museum’s special events. The garden spaces are accessed via a glass-enclosed bridge that affords sweeping views of downtown and the city’s skyline. The new bridge provides circulation down its sloping floor towards the awaiting Pavilion, simultaneously adding an additional 1,500 square feet for art display. In order to further integrate the Rooftop Garden within the sequence of existing galleries a 3,000 square foot extension of the fifth floor gallery, suitably named the Overlook, was designed between the rear of the museum and the new garden. The entire back wall of the Overlook is glazed with a large panoramic window, allowing visual connection between gallery and garden. As one approaches, the spatial character of the garden unfolds. Cantilevered over the garden, the Overlook suspends the visitor above and inside the Sculpture Garden while remaining within the museum. Materials / Sustainability The Main Garden walls are clad with porous, gray lava stone inoculated with locally harvested lichen that will provide a rich texture of evolving color. The floor of the Pavilion and Garden is a ground & polished concrete deck. This material provides a durable and contemporary finish for the display of art. Mirror-like white concrete planters with FSC certified machiche wood benches contain mature ginkgo trees that will change color with the passing seasons. The Pavilion structure has been equipped with sets of full-height sliding glass doors that front both the Main and Terrace Gardens. These doors can create an opening of more than 30 feet, creating a single indoor/outdoor environment. Hovering above, a luminous synthetic fabric ceiling was installed concealing MEP systems while supporting a wide range of gallery/art specific lighting and audio/visual requirements. Wood casework and paneling within the Pavilion is rift-sawn FSC certified white oak. The restroom interiors are dressed in locally produced Heath tile. Located on the Pavilion roof 80 Photovoltaic panels provide an average of 143 kW/day or roughly 30% of the new project’s daily energy usage. In addition, the new spaces are fully day-lit as well as fitted with occupancy sensors to reduce energy consumption.

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  • Antonina Ilieva
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