Chan family donates $40M to fund new Vancouver Art Gallery (RENDERINGS)

Jan 23 2019, 7:10 am

The Vancouver Art Gallery’s (VAG) years-long campaign of fundraising $350 million for its new building at Larwill Park in downtown Vancouver took a giant leap forward today.

This morning during a press conference, it was announced that BC’s Chan family will be donating a significant sum of $40 million towards the completion of the new landmark gallery.

To date, the VAG has raised about $45 million from the private sector, and a further $50 million had been further committed from the provincial government in 2008 during the era of Premier Gordon Campbell, when a location at the Plaza of Nations at the edge of Northeast False Creek was considered.

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The Chan family’s contribution is the largest single private sector donation towards the gallery project to date, and it brings the combined public and private fundraising total to $135 million. The largest private sector contributions after the Chan’s are in the range of $5 million.

The developer family is behind the Burrard Group, which owns and operates a number of major real estate properties, including golf courses, in the province.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

“The Gallery will be at the heart and culture of city life in Vancouver, serving the entire public,” said Christian Chan, VAG Trustee and speaking on behalf of his family, during the press conference.

“We built our company here, we built our family here, we built our company here, and we want to contribute back to the community. We specifically believe in the power of cultural institutions.”

This is not the first time the family has made a significant philanthropic contribution to local arts and culture.

Over two decades ago, the Chan family made their first philanthropic wave with its contribution of $10 million to the University of British Columbia towards the completion of the $25-million UBC Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. They later formed the Burrard Arts Foundation, which promotes contemporary art in the community.

In recognition of his family’s contribution, the new building will be named the ‘Chan Centre for the Visual Arts’; the Vancouver Art Gallery institution itself is not being renamed.

An opening date of 2023 is being predicted, but this is dependent on securing further funding. Groundbreaking on the project could begin as early as the end of 2019.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

In 2017, VAG officials submitted an application to the federal government requesting $100 million in funding from the $186-billion New Building Canada Fund.

However, the dispersal of funds from this program is entirely dependent on the provincial government, which have been given the responsibility to select local projects and create funding requests based on their selected priorities.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

In 2015, the VAG unveiled a 230-ft-tall, seven-floor, stacked-box building design for the southernmost two-thirds parcel of the city block site, which is located at the northeast corner of the intersection of West Georgia Street and Cambie Street. The northernmost one-third parcel is slated to become two office towers in the future, but until that is realized the site is a temporary modular housing complex for the homeless.

This City-owned land for the VAG has been provided in-kind by the municipal government in the form of a 99-year lease.

“The City is deeply committed to this project… it’s something that we’re talking in hallways of City Hall, it’s something we’re really excited about,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who noted that he is actively lobbying BC Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for funding.

According to Stewart, the project has come up in a “very positive way” in his recent conversation with Horgan, and he will be addressing the matter to Trudeau as well during his upcoming visit to Ottawa.

“We are pleased that the provincial and federal governments remain keenly interested in this project and have been steadfast in their encouragement as we continue our private sector fundraising efforts,” said Kathleen Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Larwill Park will be subdivided into two lots: coloured in red for the new Vancouver Art Gallery, and coloured in blue for office towers. (City of Vancouver)

Larwill Park 688 cambie street

Larwill Park at 688 Cambie Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Glass enclosure added to final exterior design

The design by Swiss-firm Herzog & de Meuron was privately chosen by the VAG in 2014 after an international competition, with the VAG opting for a firm that also has extensive experience with designing some of the world’s most renowned museums, including London’s Tate Modern, Miami’s Perez Art Museum, and Basel’s Schaulager. Herzog & de Meuron was also behind the design of the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing.

2015 design

New Vancouver Art Gallery

Redevelopment of the Larwill Park city block: The new Vancouver Art Gallery (right) and two office towers (left). (Vancouver Art Gallery)

Final design in 2019

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

One big change to the building design announced by the architect during today’s press conference is the enclosure of the building with a unique skin system of glass, covering the wooden exterior and providing more opportunities for museum visitors to look outside.

The glass skin was added partially because of concerns of how the previous exposed wood exterior design would fair with age in Vancouver’s moist climate. When viewed up close, these panels will appear as semi-circular glass tubes, akin to glass logs.

The new building will have a total floor area of 310,000-sq-ft, including 85,000-sq-ft of exhibition space – more than twice the existing exhibition space found at the current location within the old Robson Square courthouse building.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Herzog & de Meuron’s design is built on stilts ‘suspended’ over a massive 40,000-sq-ft open public courtyard and lobby, with a sunken garden that is accessible from all sides of the city block. The bulk of the structure is located on the upper levels to allow light and air to flow into the courtyard.

From the lobby, escalators lead to the second and third levels where there will be exhibition spaces and a 350-seat auditorium. More exhibition space is located on the fifth, sixth and seventh levels, and a major restaurant on the seventh level includes a large outdoor rooftop terrace.

“We really want this building to be seen as a place for people to come in, to be visible, to see what is going inside and outside,” said Bartels.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Herzog & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

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