Vancouver Art Gallery seeks architects for proposed new building

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      The Vancouver Art Gallery has launched a Request for Qualifications process to select the architect who will help build its proposed new building at Larwill Park.

      “After years of research and planning for a new Gallery, we are thrilled to be at the stage where we can move forward with our vision to create an innovative and inspiring visual art museum.” Kathleen Bartels, director of the VAG, stated today (September 5) in a news release.

      In April, Vancouver city council voted in favour to grant a 99-year lease on a 1.8-acre site at Cambie and Georgia Streets for a new, purpose-built VAG. The lease, however, is contingent on the VAG securing a $100 million contribution from the federal government and $50 million from the provincial government by April 30, 2015.

      Bartels is part of a 13-member architect-selection committee, chaired by Bruce Munro Wright, who is also chair of the VAG’s board of trustees. Other members include David Aisenstat, a past board of trustees chair and CEO of the Keg Steakhouse + Bar; Michael Audain, chair of the VAG Foundation, and founder and chairman of Polygon Homes Ltd.; George Baird, founding principal of Baird Sampson Neuert Architects and the former dean of University of Toronto’s architecture program; Andrew Gruft, a former professor at UBC’s School of Architecture; Terry Hui, president and CEO of Concord Pacific Developments; George Killy, president of Harley Street Holdings; Phil Lind, vice chairman of Rogers Communications; Peeter Wesik, chair of the Gallery Building Committee and chairman of Wesgroup Properties; and Mriko Zardini, director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The only two selection committee members who are practicing artists are Sherry Killam, who is also the cofounder of French Country Antiques, and photographer Jeff Wall.

      Interested architects are asked to submit RFQ responses by October 4 at 5 p.m.  The new gallery is expected to comprise 310,000 square feet, with 86,500 square feet of exhibition space, a 300-seat auditorium, multi-use classrooms and studios, and large outdoor areas.



      SPY vs SPY

      Sep 5, 2013 at 7:05pm

      It is something just FANTASTIC ( as Billy wooden shoes would say ) that these ultra wealthy folks, are in charge of approving a Multi Million Dollar contract to build a MEGA MILLION DOLLAR Art Gallery on $220 Million dollars worth of Donated City Property.

      I'm not upset, just delighted that these Ultra Wealthy Elitists will be able to Pay for the whole $220 Million Dollars cost of construction from their PERSONAL AND CORPORATE FORTUNES.


      Sep 6, 2013 at 11:46am

      I still haven't seen a business argument for a new gallery. Supposedly Bartels says the new site would be economically sustaining, whatever that means, according to a report that is private. Oh, and 200 people signed a petition. 200! Wow!

      I am aware that the space really isn't that big. You could put a bunch of VAGs in the MoMa or Nat, but unless someone with hard figures comes out and explains, "Listen, taxpayer, unless the VAG gets x% larger you're going to miss out on x% of touring art shows thereby costing $x net profits that could have been put to the common good" (or whatever, I'm not a speechwriter), then I think of this as a folly, at best. In the context of government underspending on mental health treatment, drug interdiction, and housing that resulting in the heartbreaking scenes in the DTES, which is RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO LARWELL PARK FOR FREAKING SAKES, then this new VAG is an obscenity.

      Alan Layton

      Sep 6, 2013 at 12:29pm

      I still think that the new building is a bad move, although I do understand that the VAG has ambitions to really cement Vancouver's standing in the world of art. But the new location is so very isolated, whereas the current location is smack dab in the middle of the area with the most pedestrian traffic, and the area is chock full of amenities. I don't believe that Vancouver art lovers are numerous enough to make a destination based gallery viable. Currently, gallery visitors can combine dining and shopping with the gallery, making it a worthwhile trip. I go there enough to see for myself that this is the case.

      They should've tried to expand to other areas of Robson Sq with interconnecting satellite galleries.

      Make the sensible choice and take advantage of the current location. Don't construct yet another white elephant.


      Sep 6, 2013 at 12:37pm

      @SPY vs. SPY

      Let's remember where our priorities are. Not so long ago the wealthy and not so wealthy elitists--along with everyone else--were hit with a bill for $600 Million for a new STADIUM ROOF.

      You could build two maybe three art museums for that. Maybe even given the VAG a decent permanent collection.

      Alan Layton

      Sep 6, 2013 at 2:05pm

      RUK - I couldn't agree with you more about the need for some hard monetary evidence for a new gallery, but could we just talk about something at least once without bringing the DTES in to the conversation? Constant reference to the DTES does little to help and probably more harm than good, since it puts most people off. The world does not revolve around a few thousand people, especially considering that their degree of suffering pales in comparison with hundreds of millions of poor people in the so-called developing nations.


      Sep 6, 2013 at 2:43pm


      I respect that. The budget is earmarked into different spending sectors.

      In theory, you set aside so much for the "nice to haves" that make the city more amenable, liveable, beautiful. The city should support the arts and it should also support the fire department.

      On the other hand, some things are more important than others. The fire department is more important than the arts. It just is. Therefore, it is a spending priority.

      I agree that the world does not revolve around the DTES, but I think it is the most obvious "thing not working right, at all" in our generally fair city. Therefore, I feel it ought to occupy a disproportionate-to-its-numbers amount of public and governmental time and attention.

      But, yeah. A "nice to have" like a kickass new library should make a business case for itself, without having to invoke the dire spectre of VANDUstan.

      As for the roof... well... if memory serves, the powers tell us that the budget was originally $100M for a pillow roof, then $345M for the retractable hardtop, which overran to $500M.

      Now you (or I) might wonder if $100M was too much, but the justification was to increase income, from $58M/year to $100M/year in booking revenues. Building a new stadium would have cost $1B.

      There's also still the promise/threat of casino expansion on or near the site to claw back costs.

      SPY vs SPY

      Sep 6, 2013 at 3:05pm

      Another thing.

      If the New VAG is BC Designed, Engineered and Built, spray all the paintings with Shelac before hanging, as the ROOF WILL LEAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      Sep 6, 2013 at 6:46pm

      Have an international design competition - please! Don't limit talent & entries.

      Art Encounters

      Mar 11, 2014 at 6:05am

      Art galleries are the best place where you can see numerous art forms at a perfect view and know about many art facts. These galleries are mainly collection of best paintings and drawings which helps an beginner artist to motivate himself to do best art work without any hassles.