location: Berkeley, CA, USA

year: 2016

The expansion and adaptive re-use of the University of California at Berkeley Press Building (1939), creates a hybrid home for two merged institutions – the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archives.  

photo by Elizabeth Daniels
photo by Elizabeth Daniels

The design capitalizes on the innate characteristics of the existing historic building -- its crossroads site at the intersection of the city and the univeristy, streamlined Art Moderne design, saw tooth roof monitors, and voluminous interior spaces.  Overlaying the 4,800 square meter historic building – which was re-purposed to house galleries, a small theater, art-making lab, and other amenities – is a new 3,500 square meter addition which houses a film theater, library, study center, and café.

photo by Elizabeth Daniels
photo by Elizabeth Daniels

Dubbed the “cipher”, the addition is both structural and sculptural, creating a new public spine that organizes the entire building.


Functioning as lateral structure, its stainless steel form unfolds across a long diagonal, rising up to provide a glimpse inside the building on its long facade, and then draping across to shelter the entrance with a café, dramatically cantilevered over BAMPFA’s entrance, which doubles as the building’s marquee.

type: university art museum and film archive
location: University of California, Berkeley CA, USA
surface: 8,300 mq
year: 2016
lead architect and designer: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
executive architect : EHDD Architecture
photos: Iwan Baan, Elizabeth Daniels