The architect of the popular sculpture garden at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has a new cultural gig: the new Emeryville Center for the Arts.
The board of the young institution selected Jensen Architects of San Francisco after a design competition among six small but well-regarded Bay Area firms. The goal is for the center to open the new $12 million complex in the fall of 2012.
"We want to move very quickly," said Sheila Bergman, the ECA's executive director.
The center will occupy the shell of a one-story brick industrial building at 40th and Hollis streets. Within it, Jensen proposes to carve an open-air terrace flanked by a three-story glass cube. The "tower" would contain a theater topped by a column-free space that would be available for everything from exhibitions to private events.
Besides compressing several uses into one, the idea of the cube is to create a visual symbol for the new city-backed institution.
"This should become a landmark beacon, even from the (Interstate 80) freeway," said Mark Jensen, whose firm also designed the graduate studios at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
Despite a population of less than 12,000, Emeryville is one of the more dynamic cities in today's Bay Area - home to such companies as Pixar and Peet's as well as a large concentration of retail attractions. It's also become a hub for visual artists, and one goal of the center is to make that civic strength more evident throughout the region.