The Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA), in downtown Edmonton, opened to the public on January 31. The remodeled 85,000-sq.-ft. gallery, designed by Los Angeles architect Randall Stout, features three floors of exhibition space that will showcase historical and contemporary Canadian and international art.
“It is the AGA’s dream that a rebuilt, renewed Art Gallery of Alberta will serve as a cultural centre of excellence for the Alberta community today and beyond, for generations to come,” says Allan Scott, chair, AGA Board of Directors. “Our new building was planned, designed and constructed by an extremely talented and dedicated project team and the tireless AGA staff. The team deserves a great big thank you from everyone.”
The Art Gallery of Alberta’s New Vision building project has been funded by an $88 million capital campaign, with major support from all three levels of government as well as tremendous private sector donations.
“As we open our doors to our new facility, we embrace a most ambitious agenda. It is an auspicious day for Edmontonians and Albertans as the AGA takes its place amongst great Canadian art museums with enormous enthusiasm and tremendous capacity,” says Gilles Hébert, AGA Executive Director. “We are committed to being leaders in the field and to providing our visitors with exceptional experiences. And this facility is perfectly suited to the bold future we envision.”
Celebrating its prominent location on Sir Winston Churchill Square in the heart of the Arts District in downtown Edmonton, the design of new AGA extends the Gallery into the community, welcoming visitors to experience art first hand. The design takes inspiration from the city of Edmonton’s unique northern environment and urban grid. Angular windows are juxtaposed against a winding 190-metre steel ribbon that references the forms of the North Saskatchewan River and Aurora Borealis. The movement of this continuous stainless steel structure through the Gallery’s interior and exterior reinvents the museum’s public spaces, continually connecting visitors with their downtown surroundings.
The building is crafted from three key materials: patinaed zinc, high performance glazing, and stainless steel. These materials reflect Edmonton’s dramatic weather pattern and the extreme contrast of the long days of summer and the short days of winter, allowing the building to transform in response to its natural surroundings.
Randall Stout Architects, Inc. (RSA) was selected from 25 international submissions during the spring of 2005, to redesign the former gallery building originally designed by Edmonton architect Don Bittorf in 1969. The RSA design was chosen by a selection committee and announced on October 15, 2005. The new building has nearly doubled the area of the former gallery and its environmental controls meet the highest museum standards.
The new AGA also includes an expanded education facility, the Singhmar Education Centre for Art Education, as well as upgraded art-handling facilities and celebratory public event spaces. Highlights include a fully outfitted theatre; a museum store, Shop AGA; a ‘floating’ room, the Borealis Lounge; a relaxed fine dining establishment, Zinc; as well as the L1 Espresso Bar and third floor Terrace Café. The AGA is directly accessible from Edmonton’s underground light rail transportation system (LRT) entrance.