If the Vancouver Art Gallery aimed to make a splash with its “concept” for a new gallery building in downtown Vancouver, then hiring Herzog & de Meuron to craft a 20-story structure made from wood was a fresh way to approach bringing a grand idea to the city.
The gallery, in place for 85 years, and with modest expansions marking its history as the largest art gallery in Western Canada, proposes a fairly large-scale leap with the concept it unveiled to the public. The plan calls for the 310,000-square-foot wood gallery to stack boxes upon boxes to create gallery and public space.
Designed by famed architects Herzog & de Meuron along with collaboration from the Vancouver-based Perkins + Will, the concept serves as the “initial design idea for the building.”
“This is a preliminary stage that is intended to describe the context for the gallery within the city and the character and capacity of the gallery’s interior and exterior spaces,” writes the gallery in a public statement.
The design aims to integrate public spaces inside a compelling building envelope that also holds a public collection of art to continually attract audiences through exhibitions, education programs and public events.
The proposal would take a parking lot, donated by the city, at West Georgia and Cambie streets and start stacking. With over 85,000 square feet of exhibition space to go along with a 350-seat auditorium and plenty of ancillaries uses.
The choice of wood in such a high-profile structure offers up a chance for the local lumber industry to show off its capabilities too, providing somewhat of a contrast to the glass and steel structures commonly employed in downtown Vancouver’s newer builds.
As with any initial concept, especially for a structure not yet fully funded—it will take a combination of private funding and money from both the provincial and federal governments to make it happen—we don’t know what to fully expect from the unveil. But whatever the outcome, the Vancouver Art Gallery has set a new trajectory in downtown design. Or shall we call it art?
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.