The New De Young Museum by night, Golden Gate Park. Photo: Heather M Reidy; The New De Young Museum by night, Golden Gate Park. Photo: Heather M Reidy;

M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California

The largest copper-clad building in the world

The new de Young museum is built on the same site as its predecessor, which was extensively damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. In addition to its main galleries, the space includes a café, auditorium, retail and educational areas, classrooms, conservation laboratories and administration offices. Arup provided mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering services and natural and electric lighting design.

Though larger in area than its predecessor, the new building’s carbon footprint is roughly half as large and returns nearly two acres of open space to the surrounding Golden Gate Park. The largest copper-clad building in the world, its façade is perforated to imitate dappled light, so protecting gallery spaces from direct sunlight.

Arup proposed and designed a constant volume underfloor air distribution system to meet museum-quality standards for ventilation, temperature and humidity control. The building is also base isolated to reduce seismic forces in the event of earthquake.

Arup’s lighting designers worked with the architect to maximise the daylight within the building by using large skylights in the historic and contemporary American Art galleries. Automatic blinds mix available daylight with artificial light to produce the required gallery illumination levels. For electric lighting in most public areas, Arup worked with the architects and a manufacturer to develop a custom multi-function 'slot' lighting fixture.