San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Rooftop Garden | Notes of Interest

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Rooftop Garden was conceived as a gallery without a ceiling, defined by the intersection of sculpture, space and light, serving as a quiet, contemplative space for viewing art and hosting the museum’s special events.

The garden spaces are accessed via a glass-enclosed bridge that affords sweeping views of downtown and the city’s skyline. The new bridge provides circulation down its sloping floor towards the awaiting Pavilion, simultaneously adding an additional 1,500 square feet for art display. The Pavilion structure has been equipped with sets of full-height sliding glass doors that front both the Main and Terrace Gardens. These doors can create an opening of more than 30 feet, creating a single indoor/outdoor environment.

In order to further integrate the Rooftop Garden within the sequence of existing galleries a 3,000 square foot extension of the fifth floor gallery, suitably named the Overlook, was designed between the rear of the museum and the new garden. The entire back wall of the Overlook is glazed with a large panoramic window, allowing visual connection between gallery and garden. As one approaches,the spatial character of the garden unfolds. Cantilevered over the garden, the Overlook suspends the visitor above and inside the Sculpture Garden while remaining within the museum.

Additional Credits

  • Acoustical: Charles M. Salter Associates
  • Audio Visual: Auerbach-Pollock-Friedlander
  • Engineer: Guttmann & Blaevoet Consulting Engineers (Mechanical); Forell / Elsesser Engineers, Inc. (Structural)
  • Curtain Wall Consultant: Shenyang Yuanda Aluminum Industry Engineering Co., Ltd.
  • Landscape Architect: CMG (Conger Moss Guillard) Landscape Architecture
  • Lighting Consultant: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
  • Photo Credit: © Bernard Andre Photography;© Richard Barnes Photography;© Henrik Kam Photography

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Rooftop Garden

Jury Comments

The notion of fitting this unique series of spaces together at a roof top level and creating an interesting and exciting venue for the museum to sponsor is the hallmark of this project.

It is its own space and environment but aware of the city surrounding it.

This is a model of how we can enrich the urban fabric via a pavilion rooftop and the safety of a cloistered area.

2011 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture Jury

  • David Miller, FAIA, (Chair)
  • The Miller Hull Partnership, LLP
  • Seattle
  • Ashley Clark, Assoc. AIA
  • LandDesign Inc.
  • Charlotte
  • Curtis Fentress, FAIA
  • Fentress Architects
  • Denver
  • T. Gunny Harboe, FAIA
  • Harboe Architect, PC
  • Chicago
  • David Neuman, FAIA
  • University of Virginia, University Architect
  • Charlottesville, Va.
  • Louis Pounders, FAIA
  • ANF Architects
  • Memphis
  • Sarah E. Snodgrass, AIAS Representative
  • Parsons The New School for Design
  • New York City
  • Allison Williams, FAIA
  • Perkins & Will
  • San Francisco
  • Jennifer Yoos, AIA
  • VJAA
  • Minneapolis

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