Despite Losing Designer Building, Berkeley Art Museum Still Plans to Make a Big Move

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Last November, we reported that the Berkeley Art Museum was another victim of the economic downfall, as their plans to build a new Toyo Ito designed building to move into evaporated due to insufficient funding. But the museum, along with the Pacific Film Archive, sound like they’re going to try to make the best of it (and still escape their current “seismically unsafe” building) with the announcement that they’ve decided to move into a former printing plant, one with landmark status to boot. The benefit is that the new/old building is located near downtown Berkeley, making it far more visible and apt to receive more visitors. And although there will still be a great deal of construction needed to prepare their new digs, the museum is appreciative of both the lessened costs and that now they can be much more green:

“It would be controversial to tear down a landmark, but if you’re adapting it, that’s far more popular,” he said. “I think it’s expected that there would be modifications, and people simply have to compare tearing something down to making some changes.

[Berkeley City Councilmember Susan Wengraf] said moving the museum to the proposed location would be more economically practical than demolishing the current building and constructing a new one.

“The adaptive reuse of an older building is the greenest thing you can do,” she said. “It’s very exciting that the new director is interested in pursuing that idea.”