The New de Young Museum, designed by the Pritzker Prize winning firm of Herzog & de Meuron of Basel, Switzerland replaces the original building that was severely damaged during the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. 

The November, 2005 issue of "Architectural Record" magazine has placed the New de Young Museum on their cover and, in a section devoted to museum projects around the world [pages 104—115].

Below are featured a few excerpts from the 2005 article in Architectural Record. The article showcases the design and aesthetics driven by the Herzog and de Meuron team. Story written by Sarah Amelar:

A fine, jagged crack in the stone pavers leads into the de Young Museum’s entry court. At first you wonder, “Is the craftsmanship so shoddy that the place is falling apart?” But it soon becomes apparent that the crevice or fault—a reference to the area’s seismic history—is willful. Part of a site-specific, permanent installation by artist Andy Goldsworthy, the meandering fissure gives an inkling of how well art fits into this new building by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. 

In many ways, the de Young’s subtlety reveals itself gradually. Like a chameleon’s skin, the structure’s copper sheathing transforms itself constantly. As fog rolls in and out and sunlight flickers, this outer layer’s character shifts fleetingly from sheer to opaque, with glints of orange giving way to shades of brown. But beyond momentary fluctuations in light and atmosphere, the cladding has also begun registering long-term effects of time and the elements—turning the copper brown, black, and eventually, green.

“We wanted a material that would be sensitive to—and actually express—the fact of change,” says Jacques Herzog of Herzog & de Meuron. In earlier projects, such as the Ricola Storage Building and Remy Zaugg Studio, the firm had deliberately devised roof structures that invite rainwater to leave its mark on exterior concrete walls. But at the de Young, the architects went further. As Herzog adds, “We intentionally attacked the metal to exploit its inherent tendencies.” 
November 2005 cover issue for ArchRecord.
November 2005 cover issue for ArchRecord.
Digital model of the de Young Museum.
Digital model of the de Young Museum.
Finished construction of the de Young Museum.
Finished construction of the de Young Museum.
Across every elevation, the designers left certain areas of the copper surface smooth, rendered others bumpy or dimpled, and breached yet others with perforations (or with a combination of the above), enhancing the material’s propensity to oxidize—and do so with poetic unevenness. Herzog anticipates that the mature patina, which may take a decade to develop, will not acquire a uniform Statue of Liberty cast, but multiple shades of green dappled with browns and black that blend with the surrounding trees. By the building’s opening day, rain, salt, and fog had already given the cladding subtle streaks of purple, sage, russet, and sepia.

In exposing the forces of nature as a key player, the architects not only defer to the beauty of the site—right in the middle of Golden Gate Park—but also respond to the history of the de Young and the long-standing controversy over the museum’s presence in this 1,000-acre park.
San Francisco's de Young Museum in California.
San Francisco's de Young Museum in California.

Building the de Young Museum enclosure

Zahner was responsible for the entire exterior envelope: the roof, the walls and the glazing systems. Engineers at Zahner spent approximately 1 year designing the complete system before fabrication began. Before fabricating the components, Zahner parametrically modeled every part. Zahner was responsible for designing, engineering, fabricating, and installing the entirety of the building enclosure. 

The roof uses Zahner patented Inverted Seam technology, which was developed in part to control moisture in low-pitch roofing applications. For instance, several areas of the de Young Museum's roof are detailed with a 1/8” over 12’ slope. The Inverted Seam roof system is capable of controlling and channeling this moisture in even the heaviest rain seasons.

The following information is a snapshot of the building statistics:

  • Area of copper panels on the building: 129,900 square feet of copper panels.
  • Area of copper on the roof cladding: 55,500 square feet of copper panels and 6,500 linear feet of custom battens.
  • Area of copper on the tower: 33,218 square feet of copper panels.
  • Number of panels — Main building: 5,757; Roof: 3,513; Tower: 1,845.
  • Number of perforations — Building: 920,699; Tower: 803,229
  • There are approximately 1,500,000 bumps of the surface. This includes the four levels of bumps that go in and four levels that come out. These bumps, along with the flat plane, results in nine different levels of surface texture.
  • Pounds of copper utilized. . .1,121,992. This translates too. . .2,201 cubic feet or 1 sheet of copper that is 1 meter wide by 21.6 miles long.
  • The 70,000 pounds of the custom alloy, custom bronze extrusions utilized for the tower system were also designed and engineered by Zahner.

A. Zahner Company (ZAHNER®) is a fourth-generation, internationally acclaimed engineering and fabrication firm known for its specialized use of metal in art and architecture. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Kansas City, Zahner employs nearly 200 engineers and fabricators in its offices and two manufacturing facilities in Missouri and Texas. The company’s world class team works with clients to develop intelligent and sustainable solutions through the design assist, design for manufacturing, prototyping, fabrication, and installation of their projects. 

Learn more about how Zahner develops projects with Design Assist, or contact a member of the Zahner sales team to discuss your next project.