Just back from (finally) seeing the new de Young Museum in San Francisco. Some comments from an earlier review and a few photos from my visit:
According to de Meuron, the design of the de Young began with a concept of the museum as a number of distinct, linked pavilions, each reflecting an element of the disparate collections that make up the museum. That initial diagram became increasingly condensed as the design process went on.
As built, the pattern of scattered pavilions has been pushed and pressured into a tighter, denser configuration. The spaces between pavilions are now internal atriums, linked by dynamic pathways that sweep through the complex. They squeeze together, creating courtyards, like pockets of trapped air. Filled with landscaped gardens, they look from within the museum like glass vitrines full of vegetation.
This organic reading of the museum’s architecture is confirmed by its skin, a tailored overcoat of patinated copper, put together with the care of a haute couture dressmaker. Some sheets are perforated, some dimpled, and some photographically etched with dots that evoke the quality of dappled sunshine percolating through the leaves and foliage of the park. It’s an apt metaphor; it is also ravishingly beautiful.