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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 30 · Number 4 · Summer 2013

A museum for the 21st century

architectural renderings of the future museum at night, airy interior spaces and visitors watching a night show on an exterior wall.

Renderings courtesy of SO – IL and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Associated Architects

Architects SO–IL and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson designed Grand Canopy to capture the inventive spirit of UC Davis and launch a new conversation in the arts.

Florian Idenburg, design architect and partner for SO-IL, talks about how the winning design for the The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis will embrace new ways of thinking about the art experience.

UC Davis will break ground next year for the new Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art — a building that promises to turn the traditional model of a museum inside out. With a partly transparent structure and shaded exterior, it will bring in the natural light while shading visitors and art from the sun.

“From its curved glass walls to its soaring canopy, it will draw people in, surprise them and engage them. All who enter this museum will become students again,” said Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi.

The museum is named in honor of Jan Shrem, proprietor of Clos Pegase winery in the Napa Valley, and his wife, arts patron Maria Manetti Shrem. Jan Shrem made the museum possible with a $10 million gift in 2011. University officials plan to raise philanthropic support for the rest of the $30 million construction costs and an additional $5 million to outfit the building, as well as an endowment for museum programming.

The design team is spearheaded by New York-based design firm, SO–IL. They will work with a team composed of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, a prominent architectural firm known for the design of the iconic Apple stores, and contractor Whiting-Turner, a national construction firm. The team was announced in May, selected from a pool of three finalists following a five-month design competition with extensive involvement of students and others in the community.

The design’s centerpiece is a 50,000-square-foot steel canopy that floats atop a series of interconnected interior and exterior spaces. Illuminated at night, the grand canopy will beckon drivers along Interstate 80 between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe and establish a new focal point for the campus. The museum will house the university’s Fine Arts Collection and include classrooms.

The jury of faculty, architects and museum professionals who selected the winning design cited its alignment with the essential characteristics of UC Davis, its celebration of the campus’s connection with culture and cultivation, and its use of light. They also praised the design’s potential to expand and evolve, along with its goal of achieving LEED Gold certification for sustainability from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“The design is truly unique,” said museum Director Rachel Teagle. “It is sensitive to the spirit of this place and will make ours a museum like no other.”

More online:

Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

Karen Nikos has covered the progress of a future art museum since winery proprietor Jan Shrem and his wife, arts patron Maria Manetti Shrem, gave $10 million in 2011 to name the museum. She writes about business, law, education, the humanities and social sciences for UC Davis Public Affairs. She previously did similar work for UCLA, worked as a print journalist in Los Angeles and was media relations manager for the California Medical Association. Covering the museum’s progress has shown her how a patch of dirt near the freeway can transform, eventually, into a new campus icon. Follow her Twitter feeds at @UCDavis_KNikos or contact her at