Alternative vision for future Vancouver Art Gallery unveiled

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Another alternative vision for the Vancouver Art Gallery’s future has been put forward, one that would see a multi-level complex created at the Granville Bridge’s north end.

Vancouver firm Tony Osborn Architecture released the “unsolicited proposal” online on January 29 and the concept has been circulating on blogs and social media.

The idea is to build several stories of gallery space and a public plaza on a downtown patch of city-owned property flanked by Howe Street and Seymour Street.

A large rooftop area would arch over Granville Street and include room for cafes, public art, a bike share hub, and theatre space.

“We as a company just had the idea that it would be interesting to put out there kind of our grandest vision for what the art gallery could be,” architect Tony Osborn told the Straight by phone.

“In talking about it, this seemed like an excellent opportunity for the city of Vancouver to get some public amenities that it doesn’t have right now, like an enormous civic plaza, a great sculpture park, things like that,” Osborn said.

The proposed site is currently home to bridge off ramps which are slated to be demolished and a supportive housing building.

Osborn said the concept has not been formally presented to gallery officials or the City of Vancouver, explaining the goal is to stimulate public discussion.

“It was really important that we reach out to Vancouverites first,” he said. “If they can be inspired and invigorated about the idea then it will filter down to the groups responsible for making decisions.”

The Vancouver Art Gallery was not available to comment.

The new proposal comes as Vancouver Art Gallery officials are seeking to secure the use of the city-owned Larwill Park site for a replacement gallery. That property is on an undeveloped block across from Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Vancouver condo marketer Bob Rennie has also proposed his own idea for the future of the gallery. In December, Rennie released a report outlining plans for a decentralized gallery system with multiple locations around the city.

Osborn said the site near Granville Bridge provides the opportunity to create a dynamic urban space in the spirit of Chicago’s popular Millenium Park.

“The Granville Loop site is similar because it’s challenged by the infrastructure there,” Osborn said. “The Granville Bridge does slice through the site and acts as an obstacle.”

“So we saw this as a similar opportunity to really reposition the entire site as something people want to flock to instead of stray from.”

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Sam Farhangi
Great concept to have the future home of art gallery by the foot of Granville bridge. With the terminus station of Pacific Extension Vancouver Streetcar plan at Drake and Granville, the art gallery will be greatly situated. Hope the city officials see the enormeous public support for it and it gets done soon.
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