Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Davis, USA, 2016
The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California at Davis is the first contemporary arts museum for the university and the city of Davis. Close attention to the museum’s many contexts led to an innovative organization of its social and physical components that enables the cultivation of relationships. The result offers a model for the future museum that is neither isolated nor exclusive, but open and permeable; not a static shrine, but a constantly evolving public event.
SO–IL’s design amplifies the Museum’s diverse arts programming and reflects the legacy of avant-garde art making at the University, where talents such as Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley were nurtured. With formal classrooms and art studios that open into the lobby, the Museum is a living experiment for teaching, making and interacting with art. Smooth zones of the corrugated façade allow for outdoor screenings and a glass-walled courtyard also functions as an outdoor gallery for sculpture.
The overarching ‘Grand Canopy’ extends a rolling form patchworked with aluminum beams over both site and building. An environmental silhouette, the design references the site’s agricultural context and announces a new social node and emblem for the University. Beneath the canopy, the spatial qualities of diversity and transparency underscore the museum’s democratic stance. Casually taking root at the edge of the campus, the unique form of the canopy draws visitors from a distance. The subtle interplay of light and shadow across the public plaza helps blur the boundary between civic and institutional spheres. Inside, a glass-walled lobby invites interaction as the convergence of viewing, learning, and making areas. These interconnected interior and exterior spaces create informal opportunities for experiencing art and learning, supporting the museum’s mission to have all visitors become students.
The 50,000 square-foot Grand Canopy is composed of custom-built, perforated, triangular aluminum beams. It is the product of an intimate knowledge of both technology and craft. From light studies through iterative prototyping and large-scale mock-ups, BIM modeling aided to maximize material efficiency, cut labor costs, and synchronize the design-build team, ensuring fast-paced and smooth transitions between physical and digital modes. Exceeding university requirements, the museum achieves LEED Platinum rating.