Like an immense cantileverd square wooden Pagoda in the sky, the 230-foot-tall, seven-floor design for the new downtown Vancouver Art Gallery, may change Vancouver’s nickname as ‘the city of glass’, forever.
Following an international competition, Swiss architecture firm, Herzog & de Meuron, recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, was selected in April 2014 for the new Vancouver Art Gallery project. It is their first in Canada.
The Jewish architects designed the sculptural National Library of Israel in Jerusalem that will be built opposite the Knesset and scheduled for completion in 2019; the ‘Bird Nest Stadium’ for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Bejing and world- renowned museums, including London’s Tate Modern, Miami’s Perez Art Museum and Basel’s Schaulager.
With a total floor area of 310,000 -square feet, including over 85,000 -square feet of exhibition space, the Vancouver Art Gallery will more than double its current size – with 40,000 square feet of galleries dedicated to the museum’s vast collections. It also features a new education centre that includes a 350-seat auditorium, workshops and a resource centre for research, library services and artist archives.
“The architects have worked closely with the Gallery to conceive an elegant, accessible building that puts art and our community first, and we are thrilled with the result,” said Kathleen Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Judging by the public’s reaction on Social Media, Vancouverites either love the design, or hate it.
It’s interesting to recall a similar reaction to architect Frank Gehry’s galvanized steel ribbon, The Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain in 1997.
Within two years of its opening, it became a tourist mecca and has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars for the economy and paid for itself many times over.
The bulk of the Vancouver Art Gallery structure is located on the upper levels to allow light and air to flow down through the various levels to a 40,000-square-foot, landscaped sunken courtyard below.
The courtyard is designed not only for museum-goers but will showcase art installations, performances, concerts, film screenings, and collaborative programs with other cultural organizations.
The Vancouver Art Gallery also plans to dedicate exhibition space on the ground floor to its Institute of Asian Art, which was launched in autumn 2014, to further develop exhibitions, public programs, the collection, and scholarship devoted to the visual arts of Asia, with a particular emphasis on contemporary art from China, India, Japan and Korea.
Construction for the new Vancouver Art Gallery is projected to begin in late 2017 with a 2021 opening.
TOP CONCEPTUAL PHOTO: The immense cantileverd square wooden Pagoda in the sky, a 230-foot-tall, seven-floor design for the new downtown Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada designed by Swiss architecture firm, Herzog & de Meuron. Conceptual photo: © Herzog & de Meuron