Friday, September 15, 2006

SFMOMA, Part 1: Building Trouble

The SFMOMA (picture at right) has resided at its current location south of Market St. for over ten years now. I visited for the first time a year after it opened and, caught up in the local excitement, was impressed by the building, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta.

Now that the shine has worn off, I have to suggest that the Botta building hasn't really aged that well. Part of the problem, I think is that really tall and shiny buildings have sprung up around it--it makes the SFMOMA look, well, squat. On the inside, the space is still quite lovely and light-filled. However, on the outside, the horizontal stripes don't exactly soar. It's clearly not the architectual icon that San Francisco definitely needs. Of course, I'm not the only person who thinks so.

Speaking of architectural icons in San Francisco, what are the possibilities for the immediate future?

  • the new deYoung Museum, designed by Herzog and de Meuron. Despite the exceptional reviews (read Paul Goldberger's New Yorker review--about halfway down in the column), a sustained low-speed driveby by Fosco on Thursday made it look unimpressive. I wanted to like it, but it just didn't do anything for me. I'll give it another chance, sure (and go inside as well), but I'm not optimistic.
  • the (recently-deceased?) Prada building designed by Rem Koolhaas. Critics desctibed it as a "giant cheese grater" and it looks like the project is dead. Alas--this is one building I would have liked to see.
  • the Contemporary Jewish Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind. Visit the website and view the images here.
  • I'm really curious to see this one: the "Federal Complex" and Seventh and Mission. The problem, of course, is that no city wants its most iconic building to be a government office building.
Or perhaps SF needs to turn to the homegrown-Californian architect Mike Brady (of Phillips Brady LLC).

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