a. Institutional Context
The ManettiShrem Museum is a contemporary art museum at University of California, Davis, one of the world’s most comprehensive research universities. Founded as a land-grant institution, UC Davis strives to educate a diverse population. Today, more than a third of its undergraduate students are the first in their family to attend college.
The ManettiShrem Museum continues in the spirit of the land grant mission by providing a central forum on campus for creative engagement across disciplines. As it explores contemporary art and ideas, the museum will benefit from being a unique repository of works of art created by a generation of influential artists who worked and studied at UC Davis beginning in the early ‘60s.
Located on Old Davis Road, a main thoroughfare, the museum is a very visible portal onto the campus. To the front it faces The Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and to the west it catches those flowing to and from campus parking.
b. Design Vision
Both architecturally and programmatically, the ManettiShrem Museum has been conceived as a model for a new kind of art museum, one that defines itself as a constantly evolving public event, encouraging personal encounters and providing informal as well as formal learning opportunities.
c. Design Qualities
A triumph of functionality and aesthetic expressiveness, the Grand Canopy is a sweeping, intricately patterned permeable cover embodying the defining characteristic of the architecture: porosity, as seen foremost in the blurring of separation between the outdoors and the indoors. The ManettiShrem Museum is a collection of indoor and outdoor rooms: exterior spaces flow into the interior and the placement of curved curtain walls and windows reinforce the integration.
Flexibility has been designed into most aspects of the building, allowing spaces to be continually reconfigured to accommodate new activities and new ways of looking and making. An outdoor wall doubles as a screen for video projections. The clear span of the central gallery zone facilitates regular reconfiguration. The gallery layout is expandable.
Tucked under the Grand Canopy, the museum’s façade is asymmetrical and organic in feeling: an arcing glass entrance is flanked by walls of a subtly irregular corrugated concrete.
d. Grand Canopy
The light perforated roof cover functions on many levels: to unify the pavilions and passageways; modulate and project changing light and silhouettes; provide shade; set the stage for gatherings; create a mini-environment for plantings; and provide a new symbol for UC Davis.
910 triangular honed aluminum infill beams fit into an intricate pattern, evoking the patchwork texture and topology of the Central Valley and reinforcing the room concept of the architecture. Less than 20% are the same length and there is almost no repetition in the patterning.
Just 40 slender white columns support these 15,200 linear feet of aluminum infill beams, as well as 4,765 linear feet of steel. As many of these columns as possible were pulled inward to create open and inviting exterior spaces. As a result, there are many cantilevered stretches along the roof’s perimeter.
The Grand Canopy sweeps up as high as 34 feet toward its rear, along the I-80 corridor, and dips as low as 12 feet at its prow, across from The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.
The already intricate design was further engineered to meet the seismic design parameters of the state of California.
Three pavilions are connected by a glass lobby to create a continuous, ground level interior. Within this interior is a central courtyard, which opens to the sky.