Early phases of construction begin for BAM/PFA

Work is underway on the future home of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) in Berkeley’s downtown arts district, BAM/PFA officials announced today (Tuesday, Feb. 12).

BAM/PFA Director Lawrence Rinder acknowledged the generous donors who have contributed $95 million in pledges toward the $100 million campaign for the new facility for the campus and community visual arts center.

“This is an incredible milestone for this campaign, now a full decade in the making. We will be forever grateful to all of those individuals who have offered commitments to the campaign, not to mention the campus and Berkeley communities who have given their overwhelming support and goodwill to the project,” said Rinder.

Barclay Simpson, a member of the BAM/PFA Board of Trustees and an ardent advocate for the arts said,  “The arts are a critical part of civil society and education and this new building will ensure that UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley have a world class visual arts center befitting these communities for at least the next century.”

The view of special event space and the library and film study center from Oxford Street. (Image courtesy of the UC Regents)

Designed by the renowned New York City–based firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), the planned facility will unite a building that previously housed the UC Berkeley printing plant at the corner of Center and Oxford streets with a new structure that will anchor the corner of Oxford and Addison streets. Rinder has praised the design for its “bold new architectural form,” as well as for its beauty and accessibility.

Following a competitive process, UC Berkeley awarded the construction contract for the project to Plant Construction Company, which has begun work on site planning and mobilization. The early phases of construction focus on interior work in the existing building, including salvaging reusable materials and preparing for the demolition of the adjacent parking structure. EHDD of San Francisco is the architect of record for the project.

More extensive – and more visible – work will begin this spring. Construction is targeted for completion in summer 2015 with the new arts center opening to the public in early 2016.

Planning for the center began in 1997, after an engineering survey found that BAM/PFA’s current building on Bancroft Way does not meet present-day seismic standards and cannot be upgraded to do so without eliminating open exhibition spaces required for the galleries.

The new building will house BAM/PFA’s exhibition galleries, learning center, participatory art-making studio, works-on-paper study center, store, cafe, and offices. It also will also reunite the institution’s film theater, moved to an annex structure on Bancroft Way in 1999, with the galleries and operations areas. The center will be home to a 230-seat theater and a 32-seat screening room, as well as a film library and study area.


Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley’s primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national, and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA’s mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”

An aerial view, from the northeast of the new BAM/PFA location. (Image courtesy of the UC Regent)

BAM/PFA presents approximately fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum’s collection of over 16,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 14,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.


BAM/PFA Building Project News Center