The museum is located in the northeast part of the golden gate park, right in front of the California Academy of sciences. The museum is easily identifiable from a distance due to its twisted observation tower. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron Architects in 2005, the museum is one of the top visited attraction among tourists and residents of San Francisco.

The original De Young museum was named on one of the newspapermen M. H de Young. After the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989, the original concrete bulky structure was deconstructed. In the same place, today stands the newly designed museum with its natural copper skin.

Project Name– M. H. de Young Memorial Museum
Project type– Art Museum
Location– Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118
The original building- Completed in 1985
New Design– Completed in 2005
Architect– Herzog & de Meuron
Area– 293,000 sqft

The museum functions as a museum with galleries exhibiting art from different cultures of the world, a children’s education centre, outdoor sculpture garden, conference rooms, museum store and cafe as supporting functions to the galleries.

With 3 entrances from the sculpture garden, the main entrance on the south facade and a secondary entrance on the east facade, the building is well integrated with the existing fabric of nature and park. The footprint of the building is much like 3 fingers with voids in between. The voids are extensions of the park trees that enter the museum area to unify the two. The main entrance is through a small void in the facade, opening into a huge open to sky courtyard. Entering through a small narrow passage, one is released into a large open to sky courtyard at the entrance.

Herzog & de Meuron are known for their material exploration and the firm has proved it here again. The external skin of the entire building is made out of alloys of copper. The perforated copper sheet had dents and numerous holes. The perforations are made to resemble the shadow and filtering of sunlight like that of tree leaves of golden gate park. Thousands of unique screens are joined together to make the skin. The designers chose copper because it ages naturally from its original colour with time, and after decades its brown rustic metal has now merged seamlessly with the surrounding of the park.

The space planning of the museum is more or less similar to any museum in the context of arts, other then the grid being angular. Since the museum houses art from all different cultures, the spaces are designed to accommodate the needs of any kind of art.

Divided into 3 levels, special exhibits on the lower level, common galleries on the first and second level. When passing through certain spaces, one can see the exterior, the tress, through glass screens and connect back to the park. Few narrow glass passages connect two fingers like masses with one another. On the level above, one of the galleries cantilevers outside to the cafe, viewing the bridge. Looking through the section of this space, one can feel the attempt of connecting interior and exterior spaces strongly.

No gallery rooms are orthogonal, providing different and extended views from each place, hence the space planning is unique in that context.

The observation tower is another space located on one of the corners of the building, offering views of the park from a viewing height.

The merger of the park between the two finger-like volumes of the structure is a good example of well connected interior space with the exterior context.De Young museum serves as a good example of interconnected, well-referred context and thoughtful spaces. Also, stressing the importance on the use of material used, De young suits finely into the historic location of golden gate park. The museum is an iconic addition to the charm of the city!

Museums around the World The Finger building by Herzog & de Meuron
Arial view of the museum and golden gate park

 

Museums around the World The Finger building by Herzog & de Meuron

Museums around the World The Finger building by Herzog & de Meuron
Isometric of space planning of the
Museums around the World The Finger building by Herzog & de Meuron
Staircase leading to basement level/special exhibition gallery of museum
Museums around the World The Finger building by Herzog & de Meuron
Atrium area after reception on the lower level
Museums around the World The Finger building by Herzog & de Meuron
Outdoor café area below the cantilevered bridge
Museums around the World The Finger building by Herzog & de Meuron
Exterior connection area with viewing deck on upper level
Museums around the World The Finger building by Herzog & de Meuron
Viewing deck on upper level lobby
Museums around the World The Finger building by Herzog & de Meuron
Interior of the African art gallery on upper level
Jinal Shah
Author

Jinal Shah is currently in her Fourth year of Bachelor’s in Interior Design at Cept University, India. She is presently pursuing her internship at BAMO Inc in San Francisco, USA. Being an avid traveler and curious explorer, her understanding for global design evolved as she spent one semester abroad studying as an exchange student at DAAP, University of Cincinnati, United States, attended design workshops around the world. She has always found herself on the Interior Architecture threshold, exploring volumes and connectivity, throughout all her academic projects.Jinal is an active (old school) learner and a firm believer that design is a deep blue sea and each one of us is merely sailing to find that just perfect dimension of a handrail. Details and minimalism appeal her along the path to function and simplicity in design. While desiring to find meaning in design with constant experimentation, Jinal aspires to explore the niche of Architecture Journalism in the future.

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