Vancouver Art Gallery selects Herzog & de Meuron as architect for new facility

The architecture firm behind buildings including the Tate Modern in London and the "Bird’s Nest" Olympic stadium in Beijing has been selected to design a new facility for the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Herzog & de Meuron from Basel, Switzerland was chosen out of a shortlist of five firms for an expanded gallery planned for West Georgia and Cambie streets.

Vancouver Art Gallery director Kathleen Bartels described the company as “one of the most successful architecture firms working in the museum realm in the world”.

“They have done some of the most inspiring museum buildings, and that experience, that knowledge, of what it takes to build these very specialized institutions, is very critical to the success of this project,” she told the Straight by phone.

Bruce Munro Wright, the chair of the art gallery’s board of trustees and architect selection committee, said the firm was chosen following a process of in-depth interviews and site visits to key buildings the shortlisted candidates had done. 

“The key reasons, I would say, are their ability to create wonderful museums that place prominence on artists, and that respond both to our needs and reflect the rich cultural context of the surrounding community,” he said.

“We want to make sure that our architect firm is not only very experienced in museum building, but also they’ll build a museum for Vancouver that celebrates the art-making and artists here, and is very much a Vancouver piece of architecture.”

The expanded art gallery will be the first Canadian project for the firm, which has also designed buildings including the Schaulager in Basel, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Bartels said the VAG will be working with Herzog & de Meuron on coming forward with the conceptual design, which they except to have completed early next year.

The new 300,000-square-foot facility planned for downtown Vancouver will be more than double the size of the gallery’s current home.

“We want the new gallery to be open, accessible, porous, welcoming, to the broader community,” said Bartels.

“It’s going to be in a very important urban context, and we want to ensure that we engage the community in the fullest sense possible and for the gallery to be a place where people want to be.”

Last year, Vancouver city council voted to lease the Larwill Park site for a new, purpose-built art gallery. The lease is conditional on the art gallery securing $100 million from the federal government and $50 million from the province by April 30, 2015.

Wright said the selection of the architect and the development of the conceptual design is “a huge part” of the gallery’s capital campaign. The public phase of the campaign will be launched with the release of the design.

“Our board is incredibly excited about meeting this milestone,” he stated. “The new gallery is going to be a vital addition to the city and will enhance Vancouver’s cultural community and serve as a centre for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange in the visual arts.”

Wright noted that the design architect will be working closely with an executive architect, who will be locally based.

The five shortlisted candidates were chosen from 75 submissions from 16 different countries. Seven of the firms were Canadian, including shortlisted Toronto firm KPMB Architects. The other shortlisted companies were Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SANAA, and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

Comments (16) Add New Comment
When do we get to see a design?

BTW: do the Feds have $100 million?

Rating: -3
The Land that the City has leased to the Vancouver Art Gallery is worth $200 Million

The design will most likely cost about $50 Million

The article states that the VAG must raise $50 million from the Province and $100 Million from the Federal Government.

Previous articles have stated the estimated cost of the new VAG will be in the $250 Million dollar range -

Where is the remaining $100 Million going to come from????

Remember that the new BC Convention Center went 100% over Budget ($450 Million)!!!!

The new roof for BC Place (Gordon Campbell's Crown) was originally budgeted at about $100 Million and came in at $560 Million!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am Damn sure that the Building Contract will stipulate that the City of Vancouver and the City of Vancouver ONLY - will be financially responsible for any and all cost over runs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This one Giant Monument to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's Ego and his Ultra Wealthy and Elitist Friends, will cost the City of Vancouver an additional $250 Million by the time it is finished - Oh Yah - Then there is the cost of buying all the ART to fill the place.

My guess is that the final costs will be close to $$ ONE BILLION DOLLARS $$$
Rating: -14
Alan Layton
This will be a bigger White Elephant than the Port Mann bridge and the new stadium roof combined. Ego's are important if you want to do well, but giving up the best location in the city is an example of when an ego outgrows it's brain capacity. Perhaps those that are pushing for the new building should spend a nice Saturday on the VAG side of Robson Sq and watch the foot traffic going in to the VAG. Then go down to Larwill Park (the proposed site) and do the same.
Rating: -11
Nate Bryce
Hooray! this is excellent news. Now Vancouver has a chance at some significant architecture as well as a new gallery. This was the best possible choice.

The VAG has raised 45 million from the private sector and 50 million from the BC government. They hope to raise the remaining 150 to 200 million from both private and governmental bodies. This will go a lot easier once the new design is revealed at the end of 2014.

H&deM are the best choice because they don't have a signature style, instead they always respond to the locale with their designs. They are most probably the best architects working to day and definitely the best designers of museums in a very long time.

2017 is Canada's 150th birthday and the Feds will be expected to celebrate with cultural funding. Now we just have to vote Harper out.
Rating: +1
Nate Bryce
re: Alan Layton: Nobody goes to Larwill Park because it is currently a parking lot. When it is a beautiful new gallery of great architectural significance, people will come by the busload.
re: Spy v Spy: Why stop there? you were on a roll, why not project one trillion dollars?

Raising the money won't be easy but if this gets built a lot of people will have to apologize for their crotchety naysaying. Of course, by then they will have reimagined that they were early supporters.
Rating: -480
Let Them Eat Cake
If this "art" is so great, how come it can only be displayed in buildings subsidized by millions of coercively extracted tax dollars? If it were actually worth something in the free market, wouldn't the free market support it?

Public art is a symptom of decadent societies that have lost touch with the appropriate sort of governmental projects. As it says in Tristram Shandy, "de gustibus non est disputandum" --- "there is no disputing with hobby horses." This is to say, there is no accounting for taste. Except here we have a gross accounting for taste, to the tune of millions of dollars.

This is in a city with lots of homelessness, a province with horrible child poverty, a nation with no access to education, except for the rich and those willing to burden themselves with debt.

50 million would buy a lot of food for the malnourished people on the welfare/disability roles---but I guess that wouldn't provide anything "world class", would it?

Good Gravy, I would even prefer condos---at least everyone needs a place to live. Everyone does not need the "art" that this thing will house.
Rating: -19
Nate Bryce
re: Let them Eat Cake: There are evening courses wherein you can learn about the history of art patronage. You think you don't need art but you really do, you especially really do.
Rating: -2
Glad to see some movement forward!!! Hopefully the end result is as breathtaking as the birds nest stadium and the Tate Modern...and not as horrific as their website ...oh dear...
Rating: 0
Dear Nate

Question Nate -- will the Thousands of Millionaire's in this City and the Maybe 50 Billionaire's in BC guarantee any and all cost over runs that this "Plalais De Bullshit" will cost???? I think not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

If a vote were to be held where Citizens of Vancouver (ONLY) could voice their opinion as to what OTHER PROJECTS they would like instead of a $$ One Billion Dollar$$ Art Gallery there would be a huge list of very practical and useful suggestions.

Hockey Rinks - Swimming Pools - Libraries - Hospital Emergency Wards (That do not require a 3 hour wait) - Publicly Owned Community Theaters - Parks

Yah I know - I haven't said WORLD CALLS ONCE HAVE I - These suggestions would just make Vancouver more livable for those of us who already live here and will PAY THE BILLS FOR THIS MONUMENT TO ELITISM

Rating: -8
I'm curious to see what will come of the new gallery, but the current home of the Vancouver art gallery is one of my favourite buildings in the city, in terms of functionality and aesthetic. It's a beautiful space and I understand that this move is serving as an expansion but it just kind of seems redundant.

Rating: -7
This just occurred to me - Can anyone provide a number for the yearly operating costs of the Monster????????????

I'll throw out the number $50 Million a year easily!!

I remind everyone that a previous Mayor of Vancouver had absolutely no problem closing Public Libraries in order to balance the City Budget.

I wonder what will be cut to Finance both the Purchasing of Art and Art Gallery Operating Costs???
Rating: -18
@Nate Bryce
Just because someone "needs art" does not mean they need the art that will go in this gallery. Sorry, I don't think that I need public art---my art needs, I will take care of myself, thanks. I don't need Papa Government to pick my pocket to subsidize art that obviously cannot compete on the open market.
Rating: -13
Nate Bryce
Nobody will force you to go to the new VAG but you will always be welcome, and if you are skint, there will be a free admissions day as always. You might think you don't need it but what of the young people who are arts inclined? How can you have a next generation of creative people if you don't support them with institutions?

"In 2012, PriceWaterhouse Coopers updated the economic impact a new gallery would have on Vancouver's economy. The study estimated that in the first five years of operation, the additional impact of a new gallery would increase GDP by $299 million, addd 5360 person years of employment and generate additional government income (primarily from taxes) of $26.2 million (federal) and $32 million (Provincial)."
from a PWC report on the proposed new VAG

Thats pretty good compared to sports stadiums that have ben found to contribute approximately
Rating: +1
Alan Layton
Lol. Nate Bryce, you are quite the shill for the VAG. Vancouver is not an art town, this is well known. We have produced great artists and not long ago we made a big mark on the art world with the 'Vancouver School' of photo-conceptualists, but the VAG didn't play a big part in that. The artists succeeded because they plugged themselves in to European art scene, especially in Germany. Vancouver has almost zero recognition in modern painting and the only person of note in sculpture is Liz Magor. By making the VAG in to a sole destination they will be losing all of those who come in off the street or make a day/night of it and include the great shopping and restaurants in the area - which is completely lacking around Larwill Park. It is currently at the epicenter of the city and there are other ways for them to expand, namely by taking over more of the space in the below-ground portion of the square.
Rating: -11
out at night
@ whoever said: " I don't need Papa Government to pick my pocket to subsidize art that obviously cannot compete on the open market."

open market = taxi cabs

their subsidized alternative "competition" (courtesy papa government) = transit system.

You don't need a transit system? Good for you. I do, as do millions of others. Unfortunately, attempts to build a Skytrain privately (i.e. on your open market) fell a bit flat when the entrepreneurs involved could only raise 0.00000000001% of the capital needed, so the big bad nanny state stepped in and did it instead.

Oh, art isn't like that? Says you buddy. Art is a fully functioning and necessary organ of society. We need it, we like it, use it, we'd miss it if it was gone. But that doesn't stop some from claiming it is an unnecessary plaything of the "elites" when they are asked to pay for it. On a micro-scale: you're probably someone who wants your artist cousin to design your logo for free. "Think of the exposure!"
Rating: +4
Hey, I'm with "Let them eat cake" - I think out of all the government spending and waste, I'll go after this one and what's more, use it as an excuse to bash art! That's the ticket! Stupid art. Stupid culture and stuff.
Rating: -4
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