De Young museum, rather a heterotypical structure, is an open and receptive space to the artistic diversity of the planet. The architecture of the cultural building seeks to communicate this diversity; it is an embodiment of the open-ended concept of art fostered by the museum. It expresses the distinctiveness of different cultures and, at the same time, it is a place of common ground, where diversity meets and intersects. The new building defines different types of exhibition spaces that reflect the differences in background and evolution of the works of art.
The volume houses all the components under one roof, in one interrelated, but varied architectural context. The building is arranged in three parallel bands (or fingers) so that the park fills the spaces in between and reaches all the way into the heart of the new building where it forms inner courtyards. Nature, trees, plants, and water, in various forms, are an integral part of the building.The three parallel elements do not lay side by side like detached, abstract art containers but are interconnected and interrelated so that viewers experience in space the interfaces and areas of friction among the cultures represented at the de Young Museum.
The tripartite structure of the buildings that rub against each other like continental shelves makes it possible for the Golden Gate Park to penetrate the museum. For this reason much of the first floor is non-ticketed. The entire lobby, the main court, the restaurant, the museum store, and the children’s gallery are open to park visitors free of charge and, at the top of the tower, a panorama deck affords a view of the park and the city.
A second architectural strategy involves the large roof: the roof is conceived as a filigreed structure that casts intricate patterns of light and shadow on the ground.
A third architectural element, the Education Tower, is a clearly identifiable landmark that looks out on the nearby JFK drive and the city. Given the location and the placement of the museum building and the concourse, the shape of the tower takes a geometrical stand in relation to the strict rectangular grid of the city. The Education Tower is literally the hinge between museum and city. It affords a view, an overview, and insight into the various cultures of this world at this select location in Golden Gate Park of San Francisco.