Building Magazine


Tate designers chosen to tackle Vancouver Art Gallery’s new building

After winnowing down the list of potential firms to design and expanded its new home in downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery has selected Herzog & de Meuron. The new museum building will be the first project in Canada for the Pritzker Prize–winning firm. At approximately 300,000 square feet, the new Gallery will provide more than double the space of the current facility to support the museum’s collections, exhibitions, and programs, which have increased exponentially over the past decade. It will also enable the Gallery to better serve its growing audience, expand the international reach and range of its program, and further enhance Vancouver’s standing as a major centre of cultural production. The Gallery plans to unveil conceptual designs for the new building in early 2015.

“We are thrilled to be working with Herzog & de Meuron and to be the first to bring their incredible talent to Canada. Our new Gallery will be a vital and dynamic resource for Vancouver, one that engages and welcomes artists and visitors from the region and from around the world,” said Kathleen S. Bartels, Gallery Director. “Throughout the selection process, Herzog & de Meuron demonstrated a deep commitment to and respect for the rich history and unique spirit of the Gallery, our community, and our surrounding natural and urban environment. Our new purpose-built home will embrace the rich diversity of our community and serve as a nexus for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange.”

The Vancouver Art Gallery’s Architect Selection Committee was unanimous in their recommendation of Herzog & de Meuron to the Gallery’s Board of Trustees, saying in a press release that their recommendation was based on the firm’s “proven ability to create innovative museum buildings that place prominence on artists and institutional mission, and the firm’s vision for the new Gallery, which recognizes and responds to the context and needs of the museum now and in the future.”  Basel, Switzerland-based Herzog & de Meuron have an impressive portfolio under their belts, such as the Tate Modern in London, the Schaulager in Basel, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. In addition, the firm has realized some of its most significant work around the Pacific, including the de Young Museum in San Francisco, California; Prada Aoyama in Tokyo, Japan; and the National Stadium (“Bird’s Nest”) in Beijing, China.

“Herzog & de Meuron’s designs are recognized internationally for both their creativity and sensitivity to place. Their buildings not only effectively and elegantly meet the needs of their users, but also become places that are part of the cultural draw and identity of a city.  We look forward to collaborating with Herzog & de Meuron to create an architecturally significant new museum that will be an important beacon for our city and enhance the cultural community of Vancouver and of the Province of British Columbia,” said Bruce Munro Wright, Chair of the Gallery’s Board of Trustees and Chair of the Architect Selection Committee.

The new Vancouver Art Gallery will be located at West Georgia and Cambie Streets in downtown Vancouver, on a city-owned site that was awarded to the museum by unanimous vote of the Vancouver City Council in April 2013. The new building will include dedicated space for the museum’s growing collections, expanded indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces for the Gallery’s dynamic exhibitions, and new educational facilities that will allow it to dramatically increase educational and public programs. The new Gallery building will enhance the cultural, social, and community space in the heart of downtown Vancouver and become an important economic driver for the city—creating a public centre that connects the downtown area, Chinatown, Gastown, and East Vancouver, and that attracts visitors and cultural tourists from throughout the region and internationally.

The Vancouver Art Gallery has already received significant support for its expansion, including a $50-million gift from the Province of British Columbia and the designation by the City of Vancouver of the downtown site at West Georgia and Cambie Streets. The Gallery expects to announce early capital gifts in the coming weeks and launch the public phase of the capital campaign as the conceptual design is unveiled.

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