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May 12th, 2016, San Francisco Chronicle

When Craig Dykers was shown the full-size mock-up of the panels that now cloak the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art — hollow shells of high-quality fiberglass — he paused for a second before responding.

That response was to pick up a small boulder and fling it at the panel, full strength.

“It bounced off, right back at me, didn’t leave a mark,” the 54-year-old Dykers said with a smile, remembering the scene in the assembly yard at the American Canyon factory of the manufacturer, Kreysler & Associates. “I knew it was dramatic, but I wanted them to get the message — this better work.”

That two-fisted test hints at the unorthodox spirit of SFMOMA’s lead designer and the firm he co-founded, Snøhetta. Since it first received attention by winning the 1989 competition to design the Alexandria Library in Egypt, Snøhetta has tackled projects in 30 countries, including the emotionally charged National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in New York City.

Dykers, though, has maintained an affable persona that is far removed from the occasionally messianic air of many prominent architects.

“He’s an extraordinary communicator, in a class of his own, but he’s also a nice guy with a genuine interest in the place where he’s working,” said Jacinta McCann, an executive vice president in the San Francisco office of the landscape architecture and planning firm AECOM. That firm and Snøhetta worked on the short-lived plans for a Golden State Warriors arena at Piers 30-32 on the Embarcadero.

John King is the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @johnkingsfchron

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