SF MOMA Rooftop Sculpture Garden

CMG collaborated with Jensen Architects on this winning scheme for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden design competition. Located on the roof of the parking garage adjoining the museum, the scheme features a bridge from the museum to the garden, a panoramic overlook from the fifth floor gallery, a pavilion, and lichen-covered walls that frame the rooftop gallery.

download: Project PDF
client: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
location: San Francisco, CA
architect: Jensen Architects
lichenologist: Tim Milliken, LSA, Elise Brewster
lighting: HLB
structural: Forell Elsesser
GC: Vance Brown
Concrete Contractor: Casey Fogli
Landscape Contractor: Shooter and Butts
size: 16,000 sf
completed: 2009
2010 AIA SF Design Awards, Honor Award for Design
2009 AIACC Design Awards, Merit Award for Architecture
SF MoMA Rooftop Sculpture Garden
SF MoMA Rooftop Sculpture Garden

A colony of lichen covers the surface of the garden walls. Lichen are an essential link between San Francisco's mineral environment and California's complex ecological systems. As a sort of "pre-garden", it is a symbiotic relationship between algae and fungus, which convert bare rock to soil and are the beginning of ecological succession. More than 1200 species of lichen in CA remain absent from the surfaces of our downtown due to air quality and the continuous renewal of surfaces. By planting a lichen garden downtown we declare a bullish position on improving air quality and investing in stasis. While providing a unique ecology, the slow-growing lichen also allow visitors a new sense of time and patience in observing this temporal garden.

SF MoMA Rooftop Sculpture Garden
SF MoMA Rooftop Sculpture Garden
SF MoMA rooftop sculpture garden
SF MoMa rooftop sculpture garden

The sculpture garden is an integral part of the gallery sequence and an extension of the museum. By removing the back wall of the museum’s top floor, its contents and visitors to flow out into the garden. Views of the garden unfold from the raised vantage point of the new Fifth Floor Garden Overlook. Cantilevered over the garden, the visitor is both suspended above and within the garden while remaining inside. Visitors access the garden from a Bridge which is clipped to the side of the Museums exterior wall, hovering 5 stories above street level.  The bridge is a space of transition. Moving down-and-over  The Pavilion is a spacious and light structure that allows the Garden to slide through uninterrupted.


SF Moma Rooftop Sculpture Garden
As a simple container, the garden walls hold the art and frame the dramatic San Francisco sky.
SF MoMA Rooftop Sculpture Garden
By moving across the sky and intensifying, or diffusing and dimming, the varying light animates the sculpture.
SF MoMA Rooftop Sculpture Garden
The Sculpture Garden concept, illustrated as integrating nature into social space: tree/wall/bench are shown with lichen covered walls in the background.
Lichen, in the words of researcher Trevor Gowards, are "fungus that have discovered agriculture".
Lichen emerges when spores find the appropriate algae.
SFMoMA Rooftop Sculpture Garden
Spacial Relationship Diagram.
Interior-Exterior Relationship Diagram: a primary design was to create opportunities to view the City.
Circulation Diagram: museum visitors can meander intuitively from the original building to the garden without feeling like they are going from one building to another.
New exhibition spaces for large sculptures.