Studio Libeskind designed the Contemporary Jewish Museum in the heart of downtown San Francisco as an ode to dialogue, inserting its angled, glowing blue steel-clad structure within the historic red brick power plant from the 19th century.
The building design is based on the two Hebrew letters spelling “L’Chaim,” which means “To Life.” Following the Jewish tradition, according to which letters are not mere signs, but substantial participants in the story they create, the ‘chet’ provides an overall continuity for the exhibition and educational spaces, and the ‘yud,’ with its 36 windows, serves as special exhibition, performance and event space.
The forms of the addition are clad in luminous blue steel panels, finished in a unique cross-hatching surface that helps to diffuse and soften the reflection of light off the stainless steel. The panels change color depending on the time of day, the weather, and the viewer’s position, creating a dynamic, living surface.
Joe Rom, while at Studio Libeskind, worked on site in San Francisco, leading the design team during design.