Herzog & de Meuron
de Young Museum
San Francisco, California

Constructed of warm, natural materials, including copper, stone, wood and glass, the new de Young blends into and complement its surroundings.

Photo © Thomas Mayer

Founded in 1895 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum, damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, was closed to the public on December 31, 2000.
The new de Young replaces the former facility on the same site, returning nearly two acres of open space to Golden Gate Park by reducing the footprint 37 percent.

Photo © Thomas Mayer
Photo © Thomas Mayer

Historic elements from the former de Young, such as the sphinxes, the original palm trees, and the Pool of Enchantment, have been retained or reconstructed.

Photo © Thomas Mayer

The dramatic copper facade is perforated and textured to replicate the impression made by light filtering through a tree canopy. The copper skin, chosen for its changeable quality through oxidation, will assume a rich green patina over time that will blend gracefully with the surrounding environment.

Photo © Thomas Mayer6deyoung.jpg
Photo © Thomas Mayer

The educational department is housed in a 144-foot tower that spirals gently from the ground floor and aligns at the top with the grid formed by the surrounding neighborhood.

Photo © Thomas Mayer
Photo © Thomas Mayer

The building is threaded with a series of courtyards that draw visitors and the landscape into the museum’s interior. The main entrance leads through a courtyard paved in Yorkshire limestone.

Photo © Thomas Mayer10deyoung.jpg
Photo © Thomas Mayer

The exterior is encircled by ribbons of windows that reflect the landscape and allow park visitors glimpses of the art within the museum, while simultaneously providing museum visitors views of the park. A public observation floor offers panoramic views of the entire Bay Area.

Photo © Thomas Mayer
Photo © Thomas Mayer13deyoung.jpg
Photo © Thomas Mayer

Broad staircases lead from the double-height interior lobby to the open, expansive galleries, paved with honeyed colored hardwood, that houses the museum’s diverse collections of world art.

Photo © Thomas Mayer15deyoung.jpg
Photo © Thomas Mayer
Photo © Thomas Mayer

Total area: 293,000 square feet
Completed: October 2005

Photographed by Thomas Mayer

Client: de Young Museum
Primary Designers: Herzog & de Meuron
Principal Architects : Fong & Chan Architects
Landscape Architects: Hood Design

Herzog & de Meuron Team:
Project Architect: Ascan Mergenthaler
Project Manager: Jayne Barlow
Fong & Chan Team:
Project Manager: Nuno Lopes
General Contractor: Swinerton Builders
Project Manager: Mike Strong
StructuralEngineers: Rutherford & Chekene
MEP: Ove Arup Group and Partners

The de Young in the 21st Century
A Museum by Herzog & de Meuron
By Diana Ketcham
Publisher: Thames & Hudson


An architectural study in museum design and urban planning.

The de Young is significant as Herzog & de Meuron's first major building in North America and the first museum the architects have designed from the ground up.
This book documents the complex sixteen-year process that resulted in an outstanding contribution to contemporary museum architecture.
Illustrated with 200 color photographs as well as plans, drawings, and models, tracing the architects' creative process in detail.

November 7, 2005

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