By Crocker Staff

The Crocker Art Museum is moving forward with an ambitious plan to develop three acres of unimproved land into a multi-functional civic space and has selected Seattle-based Olson Kundig as the lead architect in partnership with San Francisco-based landscape architects SURFACEDESIGN INC.

More than 50 submissions from firms around the world were received for the Crocker Park project. Olson Kundig and SURFACEDESIGN were selected unanimously by a selection committee of approximately 30 diverse stakeholders, including Museum board members, staff, and donors, elected officials, city staff, design professionals, and community leaders.

Located just north of the Museum’s front door and bounded by 2nd and 3rd streets, Crocker Park will be transformed into a public, art-focused gathering place with a multi-level parking structure to include gallery, event, and program space. The site will seamlessly integrate with the Crocker’s existing buildings, completing the Museum’s campus and providing opportunity for new, immersive art experiences.

The Crocker Art Museum’s growth and Sacramento’s plans for a more vibrant city center have highlighted the need for increased and improved visitor amenities and parking. The goal of the project will be to create a beautiful civic amenity that addresses the Crocker’s programmatic needs and enlivens the experience of everyone who visits the Crocker campus, not just those who walk through the Museum’s doors. Crocker Park will be a highly engaging space where the Museum’s mission of using art to connect people to the world around them can unfold.

“This project is all about bringing energy to a public space that can and should be activated 18 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Randy Sater, president of the Crocker Art Museum Association board of directors. “The Crocker is dedicated to designing a project with true civic intent.”

In their initial proposal, Olson Kundig and SURFACEDESIGN imagined the new building as a porous structure that blurs the lines typically demarcating Museum grounds and activates outdoor space to keep visitors coming back time and again. The firms were particularly inspired by the agricultural richness of the Sacramento region and the tapestry of trees that covers the city. James A. Lord, FASLA, founding partner of SURFACEDESIGN said, “At the rich confluence of two mighty rivers, Sacramento, like its landscape, provides an opportunity to create a perfect mix of people, place, and culture. The Crocker is the perfect forum for this vibrant energy to come to life.”

“The park project fascinated me the moment I read about it. It is a chance to create a beautiful and much-needed amenity, while at the same time reimagining the ubiquitous yet often overlooked urban typology of a parking garage,” said Olson Kundig principal/owner Alan Maskin, who has worked on highly public cultural institutions across the West Coast and internationally, including a historic redesign of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. “We are excited about the opportunity to establish a new icon for Sacramento, creating a place that merges art, architecture, and nature. We will look to collaborate with local artists and craftspeople who can help tell the story of Sacramento’s diverse communities.”

The Crocker Art Museum is the longest continuously operating art museum in the West, and Crocker Park will offer a new model for how regional art institutions can interact with and build community in Sacramento. The project will connect the Crocker to downtown, the Sacramento Riverfront, and West Sacramento through pedestrian linkages, well-planned green space, and cohesive architectural design elements.

“Sacramento is a city on the rise, and the Crocker has played a critical role in elevating our reputation nationally,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for the city of Sacramento and the Crocker Art Museum to collaborate on another transformational public project that will strengthen civic pride.”

Groundbreaking for Crocker Park is tentatively scheduled for fall 2020.

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Top Image: Aerial shot of Crocker park.