San Francisco Art Institute wins environment award from AIA for redeveloping Fort Mason

On May 2, 2018, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and their Committee on the Environment (COTE) have announced the winners of the COTE Top Ten Awards, the highest honor for buildings that exemplify great design and sustainable performance.

The award, now in its 22nd year, celebrates 10 projects that meet COTE’s rigorous standards for 10 criteria in several areas of design including economic, social, and ecological value.

One of this year’s winners is the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) repurposing and renewal of Fort Mason, a closed waterfront Army base. It’s now their stunning campus at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC), which is within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The transformation of the historic Pier 2 shed into the new San Francisco Art Institute – Fort Mason campus preserves the industrial integrity of this important landmark structure while creating a dynamic new hub of arts activities for Fort Mason,” stated Marsha Maytum, Principal at LMSA.

It was back on August 23, 2017 that San Francisco welcomed this exciting, new destination for arts education and public engagement on its northern waterfront. Students began moving into studio spaces August 21, 2017 and classes began August 28, 2017.

The 67,000 square foot renovated pier with spectacular views over the San Francisco Bay is the new home for over 160 art studios for students, faculty, and visiting artists and 3,300 square feet of new public exhibition space, open to the public and free of charge, including a flagship gallery, a graduate student-run gallery, and Grey Box media and performance space.

SFAI President Gordon Knox added, “In a site that once served as the embarkation point for WWII’s Pacific theater, artists and the community will now come together for the teaching, learning, making, and sharing of new and profound art experiences. SFAI is the sole remaining institution of higher education in the United States dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, and now, with the finest studios anywhere in the country, we are uniquely positioned to thrive as a singular space of creative possibility where artists will invent the future.”

Studio amenities include a woodshop and fabrication facility, installation and seminar rooms, digital media suite, a student lounge, and a sweeping amphitheater for public events. SFAI will join over 20 arts and culture non-profits at FMCAC, further establishing the waterfront site as one of the city’s great cultural districts.

Interior image: Bruce Damonte via San Francisco Art Institute.

Designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (LMSA), recipients of the American Institute of Architect’s 2017 Architecture Firm Award, the new site at the prow of the city represents the largest development effort by SFAI since the opening of its landmark Paffard Keatinge-Clay addition in Russian Hill in 1969. The new campus joins the historic Chestnut Street campus to radically advance SFAI’s commitment to positioning artists at the center of public life in the Bay Area and globally.

This new facility, within one of the most exciting and inspiring cultural hubs in the city, allows us to provide unprecedented access to our artists, exhibitions, and public programs and affirms the position of the San Francisco Art Institute at the forefront of arts education,” said Chris Tellis, Chair of SFAI’s Board of Trustees at the unveiling.

“In SFAI, we are adding one of the city’s oldest cultural institutions and an internationally renowned art school to Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture,” explained Rich Hillis, FMCAC Executive Director. “The students, faculty, and public programming of SFAI are the perfect compliment to our existing residents and programs.

Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the practice and study of contemporary art. As a diverse community of working artists and scholars, SFAI provides students with a rigorous education in the arts and preparation for a life in the arts through an immersive studio environment, an integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world.

Committed to educating artists who will shape the future of art, culture, and society, SFAI fosters creativity and original thinking in an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary context. SFAI offers BFA, BA, MFA, and MA degrees, a dual MA/MFA degree, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, and a range of exhibitions, public programs, and public education courses.

Notable alumni include Aziz + Cucher, Kathryn Bigelow, Joan Brown, Enrique Chagoya, Richard Diebenkorn, Karen Finley, Howard Fried, Toba Khedoori, Paul Kos, Annie Leibovitz, Liza Lou, Paul McCarthy, Barry McGee, Catherine Opie, Laura Poitras, Jason Rhoades, Leslie Shows, and Kehinde Wiley.

A national pioneer in the adaptive reuse of decommissioned military and industrial installations, the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture has long been host to a lively mix of arts, educational, and cultural programming. Each year Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture provides more than $2.5 million in support to local arts organizations, empowering artists to produce diverse and innovative artworks at its historic waterfront campus.

With a nearly four-decade history as an arts and culture destination, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture is now focused on reinvigorating its programming and amenities to better engage the evolving and dynamic Bay Area creative community.

Unless otherwise credited, all images courtesy of the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.

See San Francisco Art Institute Fort Mason campus website.

See AIA Committee on the Environment website.

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