Art and Architecture Get a Refresh on the California Coast

The Pacific Ocean surf steadily lapping at the coast not far from the newly renovated and expanded Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego serves as a metaphor for the successive waves of architecture that have formed the institution since it was founded.

High on a bluff here in the affluent village of La Jolla, it was established in 1941 in the Irving Gill-designed home of the philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. The museum — which has had several different names over the years — was expanded three times over the decades by the firm then known as Mosher & Drew, and in 1996 received a major makeover from the former Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates.

Now, the New York firm Selldorf Architects has had its turn, coming up with an addition and overhaul that may be the most transformative yet — and one that has incorporated the previous iterations.

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