The design of the future new Vancouver Art Gallery at Cambie and West Georgia has been tweaked by architects Herzog & de Meuron, in tandem with a $100 million donation from the Audain Foundation led by Michael Audain, Chairman of Polygon Homes.
The updated design will be the first Passive House art gallery in North America, and utilize mass timber construction. It will be built on the site of Larwill Park at Cambie Street and West Georgia Street, currently home to an EasyPark surface lot. The land was donated by the City of Vancouver, and the new gallery will be 330,000 square feet — double the size of the current exhibition space.
Total cost of the new art gallery is estimated at $400 million and with Audain’s donation, a total of $240 million has been raised to date. The gallery is seeking an additional $80 million from philanthropic donations and another $80 million from government and community partners.
To date, the federal government has not committed any money towards the new gallery, with Vancouver Centre Liberal MP Hedy Fry telling the Vancouver Sun “there are several reasons why the gallery hasn’t received federal funding, including a dispute between B.C. and the federal government over how $150 million in infrastructure funding should be spent, the personal support of former federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau who resigned before he could find money in general revenue, and the COVID pandemic.”
The updated design features a copper-coloured, woven metal facade with wooden soffits. The veil-like building skin changes appearance depending on the time of the day and the vantage point of the observer.
“The design reveals the complex intelligence of the Coast Salish people, their skill in mathematics and historical knowledge,” said artist and art design consultant Debra Sparrow. “The numerous transformations that the weave will undergo as sunlight strikes it at different angles and times of the day are comparable to the transformative abilities of the Coast Salish people.”
This is the third design for the new art gallery. In 2019, the second iteration was unveiled — a design with glass “logs” in an Inuksuk-shaped building form.
It was an evolution from the original design, unveiled in 2015, which featured more wood elements but was criticized by architecture critics.
The new art gallery is expected to break ground in 2022 and will take four years to complete. The entrance to the new building will be on West Georgia Street, directly across from the Sandman Hotel.