| Museum plans upgrades
06 December 00 | The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will undergo a $4 million seismic retrofit starting in April 2001 to improve the building's safety and to allow the facility to remain in its current location while officials investigate building a new museum.
The galleries will close May 28 and reopen in stages, beginning in late August. "We are very pleased to be able to provide this support to the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive," said Ed Denton, vice chancellor for capital projects. "This building program demonstrates the university's commitment to ensuring that students, faculty, staff and the general public can continue to have access to BAM/PFA's world-class programs and exhibitions."
"It is gratifying," said Kevin Consey, director of the museum and film archive, "that the university has acknowledged the important role the art museum and film archive plays within both the campus and wider Bay Area communities, and that it is taking these interim steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for our visitors."
"I am delighted that we are making this move towards a permanent solution to the museum's seismic challenges," Consey added. "Among our highest priorities is to ensure that the public can continue to enjoy our exceptional exhibitions, lectures, and public programs while we make plans for a new, expanded facility that will better meet the needs of our local, national and international audiences."
The retrofit will comprise a series of steel braces at key locations on the building's exterior and interior.
Exterior work will feature steel columns sunk into concrete piers at five points in the museum's sculpture garden. These columns will join braces on the outer edge of the building's tiered galleries to further strengthen its walls.
Inside the museum, a series of six eight-inch diameter steel columns will be installed in the museum's entrance lobby and atrium to strengthen the facility's distinctive cantilevered galleries. These columns will be placed so as to minimize the impact on public and exhibition spaces inside the museum and will result in a small loss of total exhibition space. In addition, cross-braces will be added in the skylights at the rear of six of the galleries.
Work on the exterior of the building is expected to begin in April and continue through October. Construction work in the galleries is scheduled to begin in late May and continue through August.
Work should be completed by early September. Access to the museum garden will be restricted from April through October.
Film screenings at the new Pacific Film Archive Theater - at 2575 Bancroft Way, on the south side of the campus - will continue uninterrupted.
In September 1999, the first phase of the move to a safer and improved museum and film archive began with the opening of the new Pacific Film Archive Theater in a temporary facility across from the museum, at Bancroft Way and Bowditch Street.
Structural engineers for this project are Forell/Elsesser Engineers Inc. of San Francisco, and C. David Robinson Architects. Construction will be handled by BBI Construction of Oakland. The Office for Capital Projects' feasibility study, begun in October and slated for completion late next year, explores the possibility of locating a new museum and film archive on university property at the corner of Oxford and Center streets, on the west side of campus.
The site, currently occupied by UC Printing Services, is close to BART and downtown Berkeley. The city of Berkeley plans to develop an arts and theater district centering on Addison Street, between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street.
The challenges presented by the current museum building represent an exceptional opportunity for the museum and film archive to examine how a new facility might best serve an expanding campus, Berkeley and Bay Area community, Consey said.
In its present form, the museum has limited exhibition and education spaces and is not equipped to present some of the newer developments in multi-media art and installations.
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