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Two firms have been selected to erect a new building on the campus of City College of San Francisco (CCSF) to house, among other things, Diego Rivera’s famous Pan-American Unity mural of 1940.
The new Diego Rivera Theater will be designed by the Seattle-based firm LMN Architects and San Fracisco-based TEF Design. The two teams will develop a community cultural centre structured around the mural, which has been on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) since 2021 and whose full title is The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on This Continent.
Diego Rivera’s kaleidoscopic Pan American Unity mural takes up residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The new theatre will connect to three halls complete with additional rooms for administration, instruction and practice spaces. One venue will be a 100-seat recital hall, one will be an 150-seat studio theatre and one will be a 600-seat performance hall, the primary location for the drama and music departments at CCSF.
Passersby will be able to appreciate Rivera’s mural without even entering the building thanks to its glass-walled foyer. “The lobby will showcase the artwork and will allow students and visitors to admire the mural from multiple angles,” LMN’s partner John Chau told SF Yimby.
Created in 1940 in front of a live audience during the Golden Gate International Exposition on the San Francisco Bay’s Treasure Island, Pan-American Unity was Rivera’s last public project in the United States. Painted on ten large cement panels, the imposing mural is 22ft tall and 74ft wide.
Douglas Tom, a partner at TEF Design, said that “for many years, the mural has been a hidden treasure, tucked away from the public in a neglected campus theatre. Not only will the new theatre complete the western expansion of the CCSF campus across Frida Kahlo Way, its open glass lobby will also enable students, locals and visitors alike to connect with and appreciate the world-class treasure in a museum-like setting.”
The Diego Rivera Theater at CCSF is expected to open in 2027.