Herzog & de Meuron have unveiled plans for a new Vancouver Art Gallery. Aiming to become a "vibrant new cultural destination" that utilizes the last vacant lot in the City's downtown, the new 230-foot-tall facility will serve the Gallery's expanding collection, featuring work from local and international contemporary artists.
Designed as a stacked wooden structure whose bulk is lifted high above the street, the building is comprised of seven public levels that offer a range of uniquely sized galleries. Setbacks and overhangs respond directly to the context, framing views of the city and North Shore Mountains, while allowing light to filter down to the open-air courtyard below.
“The urbanistic concept is based on the contrast between the low-rise framing along the street block and the taller and more sculptural building in the middle of an open and accessible garden and square,” said Jacques Herzog. “The low-rise wooden building along the street is inspired by how the streets in Vancouver were built in earlier times. The modest, almost domestic scale will enhance the character of openness and visibility for everyone.”
Beyond the 85,000-square-feet of exhibition space, which will more than double the Gallery's current size, the building will include a new education centre, 350-seat auditorium, workshops, research center, library services and artist archives. Two below-grade levels will offer storage and parking.
"[The Gallery] combines low and high elements to create an intimate human scale that activates the street level, while embracing a bold verticality and solid sculptural form that strongly affirm the presence of the Gallery within the cityscape," said the Gallery in a press release. "The lower levels are mostly transparent, making many of the Gallery’s activities visible, while the upper levels, which primarily house exhibition spaces, are more solid and opaque.
"By lifting the bulk of the structure high above the street, the design allows light and air to filter down to an active, open-air courtyard below. The building includes a one-story structure on the ground level that frames the courtyard and houses free exhibition space as well as a café, store, and a resource centre for research, library services and artist archives. The expansive 40,000-square-foot, open-air courtyard, which will be crisscrossed daily by museum-goers and neighborhood pedestrians, will host art installations, performances, concerts, film screenings, and collaborative programs with other cultural organizations.
"The architects’ intent is to use wood for the building. The material is sustainable and evokes the architectural history of the region, including the two-storey wooden row houses that surrounded Larwill Park in the early twentieth century. British Columbia is at the forefront of constructing large wood buildings, making it an ideal place for a building of this material."
LocationVancouver, BC, Canada
PhotographsHerzog & de Meuron