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MCASD La Jolla Chooses Architect For Expansion

Credit: Kansas Sebastian / Flickr

The front of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla located on Prospect Street.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) has chosen New York-based architecture firm Selldorf Architects to design an expansion planned for the museum's La Jolla location.

Architect Annabelle Selldorf will design a gallery expansion at MCASD La Jolla.

This would be firm principal Annabelle Selldorf's first contemporary art museum and her first building on the West Coast.

"She has made more sublime spaces for looking at art than any architect I know of working today," said Hugh Davies, MCASD's David C. Copley director and CEO.

Selldorf has designed spaces for some of the largest galleries in New York and London, including David Zwirner, Larry Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth.

David Zwirner's New York gallery space designed by Selldorf Architects.

Davies said he and the selection committee wanted an architect who could see this as a pivotal project that would take his or her career to the next level.

"We didn't want to hire an architect like a Frank Gehry, who is terribly well known, because making it an addition and not a whole new building, we probably wouldn't get Frank's best attention," Davies said.

The committee, made up of MCASD trustees, limited their search to U.S. architects because the permitting process in California is so complicated and lengthy. They wanted to work with someone familiar with those complexities, Davies said.

The goal of the expansion is to increase gallery space. The museum has been collecting art since 1941 and owns significant works by Ellsworth Kelly and Andy Warhol, among others, that rarely see the light of day.

The current museum is only 11,000 square feet and most traveling temporary exhibits require at least 8,000 square feet, which doesn't allow the museum to show much of its permanent collection. The expansion will potentially cover 30,000 square feet and include high ceilings, windows and skylights.

It will incorporate land the museum already owns south of the current building. The dated Sherwood Auditorium will also be revamped into gallery space. The expansion will include a 250-seat lecture hall.

Selldorf will have a concept design by next fall and, if all goes well with permitting, Davies hopes they can break ground in spring of 2016.

The project, estimated to cost $30 million, will be funded almost exclusively with private funds. A five-year fundraising campaign will begin in the fall.

The building will likely be finished in 2019 or 2020. Davies, who has led the museum for 30 years, said the project will be his swan song, as he plans to retire in three to five years.

"In all likelihood, I won't be here when this building is completed, but I sure will be there at the opening clapping as vigorously as anybody."'

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