The University of California, Davis has tapped three architect-contractor teams to compete to the design the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. Each team had four months to create a design and prepare a bid for the museum. Drawings and architectural models of each design will be on display at UC Davis’ Nelson Gallery through May 19. The winning concept will be announced in mid-May following a series of forums to gather input from students, faculty, staff, and the community. Construction is expected to start next year.
The competition challenged architects to design a building in which faculty can teach art and architecture. “Our slate of architects reflects the founding philosophy of the UC Davis art department, built by untested individuals who rose to prominence with the work they made here,” says chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.
The finalists include:
Design architect: WORKac
Executive architect: Westlake Reed Leskosky
To emphasize the building’s role as a destination for multiple audiences, the team devised a simple parallelogram form that maximizes opportunities for public space. Two corners of the building are lifted to create distinct facades facing the campus and the adjacent highway, forming a dramatic sloping roof that houses an array of spaces, views, and experiences. The slope of the roof, its orientation, and its light metal cladding minimize solar heat gain.
This roof becomes a canopy extending over a new plaza to create a large shaded public outdoor space that opens toward the larger campus and further underscores the public nature of the museum. Continuing the theme of connecting the museum’s activities to the surrounding campus, the proposed landscape is strategically designed to “stitch” the new building to the site with a series of outdoor rooms.
Upon entering, visitors can proceed directly ahead into the formal east-west axis of the Main and Focus Galleries—a collection of flexible, carefully proportioned “white boxes.” Alternatively, the north-south axis leads to more informal art experiences. The double-height light-filled Lobby Lounge serves as the intersection of the two axes.
Design architect: SO – IL
Executive architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
The SO – IL design team aims to capture the spirit of the university’s Central Valley location, a place of invention and imagination. The Grand Canopy—a 50,000-square-foot permeable cover—extends over the site and building, creating a sensory landscape filled with diverse spaces. At night, the illuminated canopy becomes a beacon within the campus and to the city beyond.
Inspired by the quilted agrarian landscape that stretches beyond the site, the design expresses diverse landscapes, textures, and colors stitched together. Like the region, the landscape under the canopy is shaped by changing light and seasons. The canopy promotes exploration and curiosity by producing constantly changing silhouettes and profiles as visitors move through the site.
Lines from the site and its surroundings trace through to shape the design as curved and straight sections seamlessly interweave. The result is interconnected interior and exterior spaces that create informal opportunities for learning and interaction. Textures and landscape bring scale to the project. The future art
museum rejects isolation and exclusivity in favor of openness and permeability.
Design architect: Henning Larsen Architects
Executive architect: Gould Evans
Contractor: Oliver and Company
“The Leaf” design not only is a metaphor for the roof canopy of the building but reflects the ambitions of the campus and the community as well. A balance exists between the rational organization of the galleries and supporting functions and the gesture of the roof.
The naturally embedded building creates an informal yet visually engaging art environment. It invites participation in the creative process, acting as a commons where students, members of faculty, artists and visitors can step outside daily boundaries and interact.
The dynamics of campus life, the serenity of the arboretum, and the programmatic requirements of an art museum are interwoven into a structure that is socially and environmentally sustainable. The galleries and supporting functions are protected at ground level. Social spaces occupy the light-filled upper part of the building, shaded by the roof’s cantilever.
A large “hangout” ramp extends from the ground level to an upper-level public courtyard, forming an engaging environment while fusing the building with the landscape. This outdoor social space encourages unexpected meetings between students, artists, faculty, and visitors.