Presentation House Gallery gets closer to new home on North Vancouver's waterfront

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      From the second floor of a hotel, mayor Darrell Mussatto of the City of North Vancouver points to a couple of cranes nearby.

      Other pieces of machinery are also at work at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue, where crews are removing old soils contaminated by industry and stabilizing the waterfront property.

      “It’s going to be a destination,” an excited Mussatto told the Straight about the site that will be the future home of the Presentation House Gallery.

      If Mussatto was upbeat on a rainy morning Tuesday (November 25), it was because he was attending a major event in connection with the project to build a new house for the internationally recognized venue for artistic photography.

      Later, Polygon Homes president Neil Chrystal announced that the development company founded by philanthropist Michael Audain and the Audain Foundation are donating $4 million for the construction of a purpose-built gallery.

      The gift puts the project’s capital campaign over the halfway mark of the target to raise $15 million for the new building.

      Gallery executive director Reid Shier welcomed the gift, and said that when Presentation House Gallery moves into the location, the new facility will be named the Polygon Gallery.


      Stuart McLaughlin, president of the Grouse Mountain Resorts, leads the fundraising drive, and he told guests present that the gallery will open in 2017, in time for Canada’s 150th-year founding anniversary. 

      The 19,000-square-foot facility is designed by architect John Patkau, of the firm Patkau Architects. In an interview, Patkau noted that waterfront is the ideal spot for a cultural facility of this scale. 

      “It’s such a high-profile, well-presented location not only for North Van and the whole North Shore, but for the entire Lower Mainland,” Patkau told the Straight. “It’s right on the water, close to SeaBus, so its accessibility is tremendous.”

      According to the renowned architect, the ground floor of the two-storey facility will be “virtually transparent”.

      “It’s all glass,” Patkau said. “You can look through it. You can look into it. You’ll see the lobby, the gallery shop, some of the exhibits. And you could see through the ground floor to the water and across to Lonsdale Quay. So the transparency will make the building very open, welcoming, and accessible, which is a hard thing for an art gallery because an art gallery is basically about closed rooms and walls.”

      In June this year, North Vancouver council approved the rezoning of the city property at the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue, allowing Presentation House Gallery’s future move from its current location, an old schoolhouse at Chesterfield and 3rd Avenue, and the ability to expand its programming.

      The new gallery’s front door opens to the Spirit Trail, a waterfront, multi-use, and accessible greenway on the North Shore, another feature that thrills North Vancouver mayor Mussatto.

      “It’s going to rival, if not better, the Stanley Park seawall,” Mussatto said about synergy to be created by these public spaces. “Yes, big words. But I’m standing by it. 




      Nov 25, 2014 at 5:15pm

      This has been going on for so long now that I still have hard time believing that it will happen, but it's still looking quite hopeful. PHG is one of those galleries that hits well above its weight class and it's remarkable that it has lasted as long as it has in a less than ideal location and building. Basically it's in an old, large house with many flights of stairs to ascend and no elevator and a fair walk from transit, all up hill. The humidity control is almost non-existent and it's sweltering in the spring and summer. It's a surprise that so many important travelling exhibitions have shown there, considering the poor environmental control and security, and it's a testament to the staff and reputation of the gallery. I can't wait.


      Nov 25, 2014 at 7:44pm

      Lol "polygon gallery". That has a real ring of respectability to it.