Detailed design of new Vancouver Art Gallery outlined in formal application (RENDERINGS)

Feb 11 2022, 3:37 am

There are new signs of progress in the long-sought efforts to provide the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) with a new expanded purpose-built landmark home.

A development permit application submitted this week to the City of Vancouver sets the motion for the project to be in construction readiness mode as early as next year.

This follows November 2021’s major milestone, when Michael Audain, the chairman of local development firm Polygon Homes, and a renowned art collector and philanthropist, announced a $100-million donation towards the project.

This elevated the VAG’s fundraising campaign total to $240 million, including $40 million from the Chan Family Foundation, $50 million from individual donors and foundations, and $50 million from the provincial government’s commitment dating back to 2008.

The new building is expected to carry a total cost of $400 million. VAG is aiming to cover the remaining unfunded $160 million cost by seeking $80 million from the federal government and other community partners, and an additional $80 million from philanthropy.

The new building will be located at 668 Cambie Street in downtown Vancouver — on a three-acre parcel of the Larwill block parking lot at the northeast corner of the intersection of West Georgia Street and Cambie Street, which is owned by the City of Vancouver. The municipal government has donated the land to the VAG through a 99-year lease worth $100 million.

vancouver art gallery larwill park parking lot

Site of the future home of the Vancouver Art Gallery at 668 Cambie Street. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

vancouver art gallery larwill park parking lot

Site of the future home of the Vancouver Art Gallery at 668 Cambie Street. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

vancouver art gallery larwill park parking lot

Site of the future home of the Vancouver Art Gallery at 668 Cambie Street. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

At the time of Audain’s announcement, it was stated that a 2022 construction start was targeted. If the construction start is pushed beyond 2022, the project could face higher construction costs due to inflation.

The newly submitted application reveals the details of the revised 2021 design, with key differences that separate it from the original detailed design created in 2017 for reasons that include value engineering to reduce costs, an improved public realm concept, and better overall aesthetics.

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery new design 2021

Revised 2021 design of the new building for the Vancouver Art Gallery at Larwill Park. (Vancouver Art Gallery)

The original design had two underground levels and a parkade, placed the main lobby, theatre, and library on the first level above the courtyard, and included a unique sixth level restaurant with city views.

For the revised 2021 design, there is just one basement level and a parkade for 113 vehicles, and there are no longer any galleries on the courtyard and underground levels, which reduces the high costs relating to excavation. The main lobby and auditorium are now repositioned to the courtyard level, the 5,100 sq ft library is on the second level, and there is an additional escalator system along with the ceremonial stairs and elevators.

Separate low-storey structures with up to two floors contain complementary VAG uses, and provide a perimeter for the overall site and courtyard. A centre for early childhood education has also been added on the second level of the perimeter at the northeast corner of the site. This childcare facility spans over 5,000 sq ft of indoor space, as well as just under 4,000 sq ft of outdoor play space, including a curved tricycle route.

The original plan for the sixth level restaurant is cancelled in the 2021 design, with the restaurant now relocated to a 6,000 sq ft space at the southeast corner of the courtyard level, where there is also a covered restaurant patio opportunity. Instead, a bookable event and meeting space spanning about 6,000 sq ft has been created on the seventh level.

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery; floor uses cross-section perspective east-west. Click on the image for an expanded version. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery; floor uses cross-section perspective north-south. Click on the image for an expanded version. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

The 2021 design calls for a 10-storey main building reaching up to 228 ft, and a total floor area of 301,000 sq ft, including 82,000 sq ft of gallery space — more than twice the space at the VAG’s existing home in the former courthouse building at Robson Square.

Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and the local architect of record Perkins & Will’s revised 2021 concept changes the massing design and form, with larger box volumes now placed on the upper portion of the building. The application states the rationale for the larger upper boxes is to allow for the potential of an unnamed partner institution occupying the top two floors of gallery space, which established a need to increase the exhibition floor area at these levels.

“The resulting design features a dramatic, cantilevering volume which seems to hover over the floor below with glazing and external terraces — a play of volumes that repeats itself in the building’s geometry from top to bottom,” reads the design rationale.

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery; perspective looking north from West Georgia Street. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery; perspective looking east from Cambie Street. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery; perspective looking south from Dunsmuir Street. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery; perspective looking west from Beatty Street. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

The overall wood exterior concept has been retained, but the 2021 design also adds a copper toned veil-like metal skin to provide a subtle First Nations weaving pattern, which was incorporated after consulting with local Indigenous artists.

Down below, the new building features a publicly accessible outdoor courtyard covered by the museum building and cantilevered roofs.

This courtyard is activated by various uses, including the aforementioned restaurant, and a 7,000 sq ft bookshop, gift shop, and cafe. It will be an event-friendly outdoor space for arts installations, concerts, and evening cinema.

“This carefully detailed structure is what the visitor will first encounter when arriving at the new Vancouver Art Gallery — a welcoming, warm and approachable building. Generous overhanging eaves protect the facades and provide cover to museum visitors and passers-by alike,” continues the design rationale.

The application also contemplates potential public realm improvements beyond the city block — a vision of a seamless public space stretching from Amazon’s The Post’s new West Georgia plaza, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza, and the VAG courtyard.

Current condition of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza:

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

Proposed changes to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza:

vancouver art gallery design 2021

2021 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

Currently, the main challenge with creating a seamless public space is the city-owned Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza, which sits on a higher grade due to its two storeys of vehicle parking beneath the plaza level. The VAG’s application suggests removing the theatre plaza’s Media Club, the pavilion building with Browns Social House restaurant, and the first level of underground parking to to create a gently sloping single plaza ground level stretching from Hamilton Street to the VAG courtyard.

“The Vancouver Art Gallery and Queen Elizabeth square’s identity as a new anchor within the cultural precinct would be further enhanced by the use of the same paving material which would extend across the proposed pedestrianized portion of Cambie Street. This new gateway into the peninsula offers great potential for substantial planting/greenery and trees which is a key component of the Queen Elizabeth Square proposal,” states the application.

For the smaller parcel of the Larwill block immediately north of the VAG footprint, the city intends to develop the site into two office towers as a revenue generating source. The site is currently temporarily used as modular housing for the homeless.

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level b1

Floor plan: Level B1, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 1 mezzanine

Floor plan: Level -01 mezzanine, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 1 ground floor

Floor plan: Level 1 ground floor, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 1 mezzanine 1

Floor plan: Level 1 mezzanine, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 2 perimeter

Floor plan: Level 2 perimeter, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 2 library

Floor plan: Level 2 library, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 3 galleries admin

Floor plan: Level 3 galleries and administration, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 4 galleries education

Floor plan: Level 4 galleries and education, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 6 galleries

Floor plan: Level 5 galleries, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 6 galleries

Floor plan: Level 6 galleries, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 7 bookable rooms

Floor plan: Level 7 bookable rooms, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 8 top galleries

Floor plan: Level 8 building mechanical and equipment room, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 8 top galleries

Floor plan: Level 9 top galleries, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

vancouver art gallery design 2021 level 10 top galleries

Floor plan: Level 10 top galleries, new Vancouver Art Gallery 2021 design. (Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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