Oceanside Museum of Art

One of the North San Diego County’s “cultural jewels,” the Oceanside Museum of art features popular contemporary art exhibitions, as well as a regular program of educational and cultural events and community gatherings.

Since its founding in the 1990s, OMA has occupied the Oceanside’s historic City Hall, designed in 1929—along with the city’s first fire station—by renowned architect Irving J. Gill. The City Hall building is a one-story concrete structure faced with plaster, with a distinctive front arcade that is common to Gill’s work.

While our design draws inspiration from the Gill buildings’ architectural elements and materials, it offers a subtle counterpoint to its neighbors.
FF&Ps addition leaves the City Hall building’s exterior completely intact, and is set back from the line of the historic arcade and the fire stations’ front facade. Not only does this help keep Gill’s buildings literally and figuratively at the forefront, it also creates an outdoor plaza between the original museum building, the fire station, and the new addition.

A place to exhibit outdoor sculpture and host events, this plaza now plays an active role in Oceanside’s civic life.
We conceived the OMA addition as a simple “box within a box.” A two-story structure, it consists of an inner, opaque box accommodating galleries contained by a more transparent outer box. The ground-floor façade clad entirely in glass exposes the activity in between these two boxes to the plaza and street, and sliding doors set into the glazing enable spillover during events. In the building’s southwest corner, a wide “social stair” connecting the first and second floors is framed by a glassed-in corner window that spans up to the roof. This window’s vertical fins recall Gill’s residential work, yet the expression feels fresh and contemporary.