San Francisco Points of Interest
The building which houses the Asian Art Museum was designed by architect George Kelham as the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library which occupied the building until 2003. The transformation from library to museum was designed by Italian architect Gae Aulenti who specializes in the adaptive conversion of historic structures into museums. Her projects included the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.
"The Public Library is an excellent example of American Beaux Arts architecture in the tradition of Classical Revival European and American libraries, such as Cass Gilbert's Detroit Public Library, on which it is closely modeled. The long arcade of the Fulton Street facade, with the colonnade of the Federal Building, defines the principal planning axis of the Civic Center and directs the eye from Market Street to the City Hall dome. The Larkin Street facade, across the Plaza from City Hall, reflects the design of the City Hall in its main features.""
Source: NRHP nomination for the San Francisco Civic Center Historic District submitted in 1978.