Last year the University of California, Davis invited three architects to compete for the chance to design their new $30 million art museum, slated to open in 2016. The competition was a design-build affair, with each entrant being asked to pair up with a contractor and submit a holistic design. For those who missed it, SO - IL were announced as the winners of the competition.
Here we present one of the two runner-up submissions from Henning Larsen Architects. Given the name 'The Leaf', the design it spatially and materially expresses its overlapping functions. Its name comes from the lightweight leaf-like steel and aluminum roof, which filters sunlight and offers shade. The leaf sits on a heavy concrete base, providing accommodation for the museum's exhibits.
Read the architects description after the break...
"The Leaf" is the name of the iconic new art museum at the University of California, Davis. The museum is designed with exhibition halls as well as informal spaces for social interaction and relaxation. This juxtaposition creates a dynamic, living museum where students, teachers and locals can share an aesthetic experience and creative process.
These two overlapping functions are evident in the building’s form and materiality; from a solid base of concrete, a light roof construction of aluminum and steel emerges and spreads out to offer shade. The base houses the museum's exhibition spaces, which require special lighting levels and ventilation.
From the open and informal lobby, there are several entrances to the exhibition spaces. This variation of scale creates a sense of intimacy, connecting the lobby/lounge to the rest of the museum. The interior layout and furniture selection reinforce this intimate feeling, with large tables, comfortable sofas and walls of books.
The building's roof is like a leaf not only in form but in function, filtering the sunlight and ensuring shade even at the building’s uppermost levels. The top floor houses a gallery, a common room, offices and a patio. The patio can be reached by following the serpentine paths laid out on a gradual slope that embraces the building and brings it into the landscape.
The museum’s landmark location on the southern part of campus, adjacent to the highway makes it one of the first things encountered upon arrival to the university. It has therefore been important to design a building that interacts with the existing buildings to create a new portal to the campus.
Design ArchitectHenning Larsen Architects
Executive ArchitectGould Evans
ContractorOliver and Company
PhotographsCourtesy of Henning Larsen Architects