Honorable Mention - SCUP Excellence in Architecture for a New Building

University of California, Davis

Manetti Shrem Museum of Art
University of California, Davis - Manetti Shrem Museum of Art
Jury Comments
“. . . given resources and design-build challenges the outcome was pretty good . . . had a lot of flexibility for different kinds of spaces . . . creates a feeling of welcome without being imposing . . .”


    • Site – 75,000 sq ft; Building – 30,970 gsf / 18,040 asf
    • LEED Platinum
    • The museum’s gallery suite hosts curated, traveling, and student art exhibitions, while two open assignment classrooms, a lecture room, a seminar room, and an art studio support multidisciplinary instruction and making.
    • The spare material palette features muted grays and whites in order to place greater emphasis on the art and activities.
    • The canopy creates a diverse portfolio of interconnected spaces giving definition to an exterior area twice the size of the interior program.


Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is the first contemporary arts museum for both the campus and city of Davis. With a mission to cultivate curiosity and participation across generational, racial, economic, and other social divisions, the design of the museum is rooted in principles of flexibility, transparency, and accessibility. Qualities of openness and porosity are expressed in ways large and small, from the materiality of the 50,000-square-foot perforated canopy to the non-traditional layout of the exhibition spaces which encourage chance encounters and informal learning. The added programmatic functionality provided by the museum complements the academic, administrative, and performing facilities on the quad, inviting a broader cross-section of the community to this part of the campus.

The site for the museum completes the long-range master plan for program surrounding Vanderhoef Quad. Situated in a highly visible location, the museum also had to serve as a university icon from a variety of vantage points and speeds (pedestrian, bicyclist, automobile). The building acts as the terminus to an axis leading back to the center of campus, aligning interior and exterior circulation to maintain visual connectivity.

The procurement strategy for the museum was a design-build competition. During the competition phase, the architects were in constant dialogue with the builder. This allowed for specific feedback about vernacular building techniques and cost- effective systems readily available in the Central Valley. This relationship continued through the documentation process: the architects worked directly with the various trades to refine details and test assemblies through large-scale mock-ups, maintaining a focus on aesthetic, functional, sustainability, and budgetary goals.

Project Team

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson; also SO-IL; The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company; Lutsko Associates; Cunningham Engineering; Rutherford + Chekene; WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff; Fisher Marantz Stone; Charles M. Salter Associates