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Museum of the African Diaspora

The Freelon Group

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The Freelon Group, The Freelon Group

Project Name

Museum of the African Diaspora

Project Status


Year Completed



20,000 sq. feet



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Project Description

The Museum of the African Diaspora occupies 20,000 Sq. Ft. on portions of three floors of the St. Regis Hotel and Residences designed by SOM.  Located at the corner of Third and Mission Streets in San Francisco, MoAD is in the heart of the Yerba Buena cultural district and is a close neighbor to Mario Botta’s San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. As a dynamic, world class institution, MoAD brings people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds together so they can enjoy, study and appreciate, through enriching exhibitions, public and educational programs, the culture, history and art of people of African descent within the United States and throughout the world.

The Museum’s Mission Street façade features a monumental image of hope as seen through the innocent eyes of an African child. Like the museum itself, the image is a collage of disparate voices, histories and traditions – in this case, a mosaic of photographs that begin to tell the story of the African Diaspora.

The entry is marked by an “intervention” expressed through the intersection of the orthogonal city grid and the angled axis of the orange canopy that visually guides visitors into the Museum.  The design seeks to engage the public starting at the street level. The themes and content of the Museum are subsequently incorporated into the architectural design of all three floors, reinforcing the seamless integration of architecture and content.

The organization of the Museum’s program is informed by the pre-existing tenant allocations made by the Tower developer and architect.  Due to the limited ground floor area, the ticketing and museum store were designed as an open, flexible environment.  A single fluid space, the ground floor is readily adaptable to a variety of activities including reception / pre-function for the immersive exhibits and multi-purpose gallery spaces above.
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