There are many reasons why Lower Lonsdale is a popular neighbourhood in North Vancouver.
Its waterfront setting, proximity to the mountains, and easy access to transit are some of the draws to this old community that has grown into a modern hub.
For art lovers, Lower Lonsdale, a.k.a. LoLo, has something fresh to offer with the opening of the Polygon Gallery on November 18 this year.
The 24,000-square-foot cultural facility will be the new home of Presentation House Gallery, a renowned local venue for artistic photography.
Designed by Patkau Architects, the two-storey building at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue is on property donated by the City of North Vancouver.
Mayor Darrell Mussatto said that the Polygon Gallery will take his city to a “different level”.
“It puts us on the artistic map, so to speak,” Mussatto told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. According to Mussatto, the Polygon Gallery is just one piece in the city’s vision of becoming a cultural hub in the Lower Mainland.
The mayor said a new 16,000-square-foot museum, in Lower Lonsdale as well, will be opening in 2019. Construction has also started on another site for an attraction featuring an ice rink and a plaza.
Launched in 1976, Presentation House Gallery has showcased the works of celebrated local artists like Fred Herzog and international artists such as Andy Warhol.
Previously based in an old schoolhouse at Chesterfield Avenue and 3rd Avenue, the gallery will be assuming the name of its new home, where it will be able to expand the reach of its programming and double its space.
Presentation House Gallery director Reid Shier is continuing in the same capacity at the Polygon Gallery.
“Presentation House Gallery has always had a well-respected role, a very unique role in Vancouver and in the region for producing incredibly high-calibre exhibitions that had been rooted in photography but in a very out-of-the-way, inaccessible location that has not really provided any way for audiences to really appreciate them on the level that they have been developed,” Shier noted in a phone interview with the Straight.
“So what we feel is that, you know, we finally have a facility that will do justice to the types of exhibitions that we’re doing, and that will be a real landmark for new audiences,” Shier continued. “People will be able to discover us in a way that they have not before.”
The three levels of government contributed $2.5 million each for the construction of the gallery. Polygon Homes, established by developer Michael Audain, and the Audain Foundation donated $4 million.
According to Shier, the capital campaign for the project is raising the rest of the $20 million required to cover the cost of the $18-million facility and a $2-million endowment.
The Chan Family Foundation also made a significant contribution, and Shier said that a space is named after the charity.
Restaurant and retail spaces will be located on the ground floor, which was designed to be transparent with a glass enclosure. The exhibition floor will be on the upper level.
With the Polygon Gallery, Shier said, visitors will see “one of the most architecturally significant and, certainly, most generously located cultural facilities in Western Canada”.
The November 18 opening coincides with the start of a three-month show called N. Vancouver, which takes a look at the gallery’s hometown.
With the Polygon Gallery opening in the fall, Mayor Mussatto may have additional ammunition for his argument as to why a SkyTrain tunnel connecting Waterfront Station in Vancouver and Lonsdale Quay needs to be considered.
“It just adds a new dimension to the waterfront,” Mussatto said about the gallery. “It gives a new perspective.”