April 28, 2017 - SO-IL - Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art
e-flux Architecture
April 28, 2017
April 28, 2017


Photo: Iwan Baan.

Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art


The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art captures the spirit of the California Central Valley—the sense of empowerment from being able to cultivate and grow freely—a spirit of optimism, imagination and invention. As an overarching move, a 50,000 square-foot permeable cover—a "Grand Canopy"—extends over both site and building. The distinct shape of this open roof presents a new symbol for the campus. The Canopy blurs the edges of the site, creating a sensory landscape of activities and scales.

The Grand Canopy is a sweeping, intricately patterned permeable cover embodying the defining characteristic of the architecture: porosity, as seen foremost in the blurring of separation between the outdoors and the indoors. The Manetti Shrem Museum is a collection of indoor and outdoor rooms: exterior spaces flow into the interior and the placement of curved curtain walls and windows reinforce the integration.

Flexibility has been designed into most aspects of the building, allowing spaces to be continually reconfigured to accommodate new activities and new ways of looking and making. An outdoor wall doubles as a screen for video projections. The clear span of the central gallery zone facilitates regular reconfiguration. The gallery layout is expandable.

Three pavilions are connected by a glass lobby to create a continuous, ground level interior. Within this interior is a central courtyard, which opens to the sky. Tucked under the Grand Canopy, the museum’s façade is asymmetrical and organic in feeling: an arcing glass entrance is flanked by walls of a subtly irregular corrugated concrete.

The light perforated roof cover functions to unify the pavilions and passageways; modulate and project changing light and silhouettes; provide shade; set the stage for gatherings; create a mini-environment for plantings; and provide a new symbol for UC Davis.

910 triangular honed aluminum infill beams fit into an intricate pattern, evoking the patchwork texture and topology of the Central Valley and reinforcing the room concept of the architecture. Less than 20% are the same length and there is almost no repetition in the patterning.

Just 40 slender white columns support these 15,200 linear feet of aluminum infill beams, as well as 4,765 linear feet of steel. As many of these columns as possible were pulled inward to create open and inviting exterior spaces. As a result, there are many cantilevered stretches along the roof’s perimeter.

Intelligent design has produced savings. The Grand Canopy serves as a modified environment over the site and the use of the pavilion form helps achieve energy efficiency by separating gallery and non-gallery programs. The museum is designed so that in mild weather, the lobby and other non-gallery spaces can be opened to the outside.

The museum’s landscape is conceived as a series of outdoor rooms, with the building an extension of the natural environment. Palette and texture reinforce this unified approach: plant selections employed a mixture of species native to the region and appropriate for the local climate. Plantings were used to reinforce building elements; olive trees were chosen because their silver foliage harmonizes with the light tones of the Grand Canopy and planted mounds under the canopy follow its curves. With the canopy directing shifting rays of light, the events plaza was designed to mimic forest understory. Climate-appropriate plantings demonstrate the UC Davis commitment to a sustainable campus and showcase the UC Davis Arboretum’s wide influence on horticultural practices throughout California.

Competition Team Florian Idenburg, Ilias Papageorgiou, Jing Liu, Danny Duong, Seunghyun Kang, Nile Greenberg, Pietro Pagliaro, Andre Herrero, Madelyn Ringo, Jacopo Lugli
Realization Team Florian Idenburg, Ilias Papageorgiou, Jing Liu, Danny Duong, Kevin Lamyuktseung, Alvaro Gomez-Selles Ferndandez
Associate Architect Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Contractor Whiting-Turner
Structural Engineer Rutherford & Chekene
Mechanical Engineer WSP
Sustainability WSP
Lighting Fisher Marantz Stone
Canopy Engineer Front Inc.

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