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Santa Barbara Museum of Art Plans Rooftop Garden, 4th Floor with $50 Million Expansion

The Santa Barbara Planning Commission will consider the 8,000-square-foot development plan at Thursday's meeting

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art wants to build a rooftop garden with a terrace and pavilion, creating a fourth floor as part of a $50 million, 8,000-square-foot expansion of its downtown building.

Museum officials are scheduled to go before the Santa Barbara Planning Commission on Thursday seeking approval for its development plan. The museum last week erected story poles to show the scope of the expansion, which would reach as high as 59 feet. 

The cost of the project is expected to reach $50 million, including $8 million to establish an endowment for future upkeep of the facilities. The museum, which currently includes galleries, a museum store, a cafe, an auditorium, a library and a children's area, is one of Santa Barbara's most prominent destinations for locals and tourists. 

"Some of our gallery space occupies a structure that is more than 100 years old," museum director Larry Feinberg said in an email to Noozhawk. "So, due to the age of the building and normal wear, the museum faces some critical needs."

Feinberg pointed out that the project calls for seismic reinforcements of the masonry walls, system upgrades and new air conditioning to preserve and protect art work.

In addition, the project includes a new art receiving facility on Anapamu Street with a freight elevator and a hydraulic lift. Currently, art is delivered from a truck onto a forklift.

The museum plans to remove two coast live oak trees to make room of the new portions of the building. One of those trees will be replaced on site, while the museum will plant two oak trees off site at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

The museum moved into the building at 1130 State St. in 1940, before which it was home to the U.S. Post Office. Since 1942, the museum underwent six major expansions. The property is currently owned by Santa Barbara County.

Two basement levels currently used for storage, electrical and phone equipment would be reconfigured for administrative office and conference room use with the expansion plans. The museum's gift show and cafe would be be reconfigured on the lower level. The main level would be redesigned to include a new children's gallery. 

Plans for the museum's expansion include a fourth floor and rooftop terrace. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

"This renovation not only addresses immediate needs of the facility, it also allows us to enhance the efficiency and security of art delivery, movement, and storage," Feinberg said. 

Plans include new gallery space on the upper levels and an 800-square-foot pavilion on the roof, which would boost the building height to 59 feet from the area of 47 to 49 feet. 

The new pavilion is designed so that nonprofits could hold events on the roof, which would be serviced by an elevator. 

Increasing gallery space will allow the museum to display more of its works because "only a fraction" can be on display at any one time, according to the museum. 

Museum officials said the collection spans "more than 5,000 years of human creativity and includes classical antiquities rivaled in the West only by the J. Paul Getty Museum."

"The proposed project will improve the museum's ability to continue to serve the community and contribute positively to people's life experiences," said Trish Allen of Suzanne Elledge Planning & Permitting Services Inc., the company representing the museum through the planning process. 

Feinberg said the improvements will help the museum "provide cultural inspiration for generations to come."

The museum holds more than 28,000 objects in its collection. About 33 percent of the visitors are from Santa Barbara County; 10 percent from Ventura County; 17 percent from Los Angeles; 15 percent from Northern California; 5 percent from San Diego and 20 percent from out of state, according to data provided by the museum. 

The Santa Barbara Planning Commission is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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