The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced today its selection of Snøhetta to design its $250 million expansion. Until recently, the 100-person architectural firm has remained fairly under the radar in the United States, having completed major cultural projects only in such faraway places as Egypt and Norway. Today’s news, along with a string of North American projects by Snøhetta currently in development or under construction, is sure to change that.
Snøhetta founders Craig Dykers and Kjetil Traedal Thorsen
Photo courtesy Snøhetta
Following an intensive architect selection process that began last fall (but did not require design proposals according to Snøhetta co-founder Craig Dykers), the 75-year-old institution chose Snøhetta from a group of four short-listed firms that included Adjaye Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Foster + Partners. The expansion will connect to the current building, designed by Mario Botta and opened in 1995, and open out to Howard Street in the Bay City’s SoMa neighborhood. (A fire station that currently occupies the site will be rebuilt elsewhere.)
Though the exact program and size of the new building is yet to be determined, according to Dykers, “We want to create a setting with natural light, views, and fresh air within a relatively constrained urban condition, and make a museum that responds to the 21st-century visitor and the community.” Another main design objective for Dykers is to form a symbiotic relationship with the sometimes-maligned Botta building. “People have been very critical of the Botta design, but it is a strong building with a clear character,” Dykers says. “I’m much more interested in working with that than with a weak building.”

Construction is moving forward on Snøhetta’s National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion at the World Trade Center. The firm, which has offices in Oslo and New York City, was also recently commissioned to reconstruct the public spaces in and around New York City’s Times Square. Other current projects in North America include an arts center at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and library buildings in Toronto, Canada and Raleigh, North Carolina.