DAVIS – The US city of Davis, west of Sacramento, hosts the University of California’s new art museum. The building, when viewed from above, has a patchwork roof that mimics the patterns from the surrounding farmland. In 2013, a design-build competition was won in a collaborative effort by New York-based architects SO-IL, the San Francisco office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and the Folsom office of construction company Whiting-Turner.
The museum is used as an exhibition space and education platform for the University of California. The programme for the museum is spread across the site and organized into five distinct areas: the gallery pavilion, the education pavilion, the operations pavilion, the lobby and courtyard area, and the outdoor events plaza. All of the spaces function for the reception of art in either a gallery format, as classrooms and studios, or performance and screening areas.
Bordered by roads and car parks, the architects oriented the pavilions inward to allow a public and pedestrian realm to emerge on the periphery of the site, while providing a courtyard in the centre. The design strategy is focused on breaking down perceptions of indoor and outdoor functionality, opting not for one building set within a landscape, but for a few buildings that are programmatically linked to adjacent open-air spaces. The complex comprises 4130 sqm of functional indoor and outdoor space.
The sweeping metal form connects areas by delineating exterior ‘rooms’ with a canopy that continues to act as a roof over the pavilions containing interior functions. The events plaza is dappled by shadows formed by the feature roof, which filters the light throughout the day. The public space operates as more than just an entrance to the building; the intention is that it will accommodate interactive learning, open-air exhibitions and performances. Two of its walls are dedicated to projecting digital works and film, which activates the plaza as a multipurpose space of equal functional importance as the remainder of the contained spaces.
Plan – Roof