Art Museum Expansion Is A Wrap

Thermafiber provides solutions at San Francisco MOMA.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) underwent three years of construction to make it the largest modern and contemporary art museum in America.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) reopened in May 2016 following three years of construction to make it the largest modern and contemporary art museum in America.

The expansion project team, led by Norwegian firm Snøhetta, Oslo and New York (, assembled a multi-disciplinary roster of composites companies, architects, and general contractors to meet ambitious sustainability, performance and design goals.

Owens Corning’s (Toledo, OH, building science experts joined insulation contractors Canyon Insulation, Livermore, CA, and Res-Com Insulation, Inc., Hayward, CA, and Kreysler & Associates, American Canyon, CA (, custom fabricators, to consult on the project.

The Owens Corning team focused on Thermafiber mineral-wool insulation solutions needed to address fire containment, acoustical and thermal control, and energy conservation in the exterior façade, interior walls, and mechanical HVAC systems. The collaboration led to the use of four solutions, including Thermafiber RainBarrier 45, Thermafiber FireSpan 90, Thermafiber Safing, and Thermafiber VersaBoard 60.

The first step in creating the building enclosure was proving that the proposed fire-resistant panels (FRP) could pass the stringent NFPA 285 (National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA, test requirements. Previously, FRP cladding had not passed the NFPA 285 standard fire test method for evaluation of fire propagation characteristics of exterior non-load-bearing wall assemblies and panels containing combustible components.

To address this challenge, custom fabricator Kreysler & Associates turned to Canyon Insulation and Owens Corning experts to achieve the signature facade. Together, the team devised the ultra-lightweight solution using Thermafiber fire-resistant technology to create the first-ever Fireshield 285 FRP panel system to successfully pass the NFPA 285 fire test. (Fireshield 285 FRP panel system is a trademark of Kreysler & Associates.)

“This breakthrough represents the first major use of FRP cladding on a multi-story building in North America and brings new flexibility to the future of commercial design for architects,” said William Kreysler, president, Kreysler & Associates. “We are excited to have pioneered this innovation in partnership with Owens Corning.”

A perimeter fire-containment assembly was chosen using Thermafiber FireSpan and Thermafiber Safing to help achieve outstanding fire protection in compliance with building-code fire requirements.

Thermafiber RainBarrier 45 mineral-wool insulation was specified in the open joint façade to provide energy-saving continuous insulation with critical fire-resistive characteristics. Thermafiber RainBarrier 45, in rainscreen and cavity-wall construction applications, further helped the building breathe without sacrificing R-value. R-value is critical when managing interior thermal moisture levels needed to protect the art displayed in the galleries.

With the 225,000-sq.-ft. addition, the Snøhetta design team strived to create seamless integration between the interior and exterior spaces of the new and original brick-wrapped Mario Botta building. A chief challenge for the interior design was addressing the highly sensitive temperature and humidity levels necessary to preserve works of art showcased in the museum. Given the additional energy usage typically required to maintain this balance, the team needed solutions that would keep the project on track to meet the sustainability and energy-efficient goals for the building and meet the U.S. Green Building LEED gold standard.

Working closely with Res-Com Insulation Inc., the Owens Corning team recommended Thermafiber mineral-wool insulation product solutions to help maximize the building’s efficiency across thermal, acoustical, and mechanical systems. Thermafiber VersaBoard 60 insulation was selected to help optimize acoustical and thermal control in the exposed and unexposed mechanical spaces as well as the penthouse. Engineered to repel moisture and provide a combination of fire-resistive characteristics, enhanced acoustical performance, thermal insulation, and energy conservation, the multi-purpose Thermafiber VersaBoard 60 insulation satisfied each of the strategic interior-design priorities.

To further support interior fire safety, Thermafiber Safing insulation was also cut and installed into the top of the fire-rated wall assemblies for mechanical and electrical fire-rated penetrations.

Thanks, in part, to the building-science innovation incorporated throughout the design, the SFMOMA renovation has been heralded as an architectural masterpiece that merges form and function to achieve new standards in fire safety, durability, performance, and sustainability goals.

Click here to see more Owens Corning products.

Comments are closed.