De Young Musuem (Photo: Adam Lau / The Chronicle)

California Academy of Sciences (under construction in 2007)

Here’s the difference between architecture and other forms of art: It must be judged by how it functions, as a matter of course, not merely by how it looks or sounds or feels.

And that’s why I’m not totally seduced by the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park – at least not in comparison to the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum across the way…

Thus there was just one slot for the big-name, one-of-a-kind edifices that premiered between 2005 and 2008 – a space I reserved for the de Young designed by the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, assisted by San Francisco’s Fong & Chan Architects. The one with the patterned copper skin and the blunt but revelatory observation tower.


John King
SF Gate

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