I had the opportunity on a recent trip to San Francisco, my first since 2005, to visit the new-to-me de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, which opened shortly after my last visit. Interesting to see a relatively new work by the architects of Vancouver’s forthcoming (?) art gallery, particularly to see the way the spaces intersect in parts of the building that aren’t the tall white walls of the galleries themselves.

Friends who have seen it, or who saw these pictures, described it as “a battleship,” “menacing,” and “very male.” Its surface is largely punched-metal sheeting over a steel frame, including the cladding on the administrative tower, with a concrete inner structure.




There were some interesting plazas and indented courtyards that let a little of the park’s green curves into the museum’s space.


And a very dramatic foyer…


In spite of its imposing shape, it fitted quite well into the park, I thought. The big question is whether this scale of a building (albeit stacked up like hat boxes as they have proposed for Vancouver), and the kind of successful spatial penetrations they have here, can translate from sunny California at 38 degrees north latitude to our greyness at latitude 49.


Impressive, though, and an “icon” compared with SF MOMA, which you more or less stumble upon on the downtown city streets.