The New Vancouver Art Gallery by Herzog & de Meuron

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The Vancouver Art Gallery is one of the most important museums and art institutions in Canada, with a special focus on Canadian and British Columbian artists, on educational programs, and on the promotion of young artists.

The museum’s collections, amounting to more than 10,000 pieces overall, include works by celebrated local artists, such as Emily Carr and Jeff Wall, by many of the most important Canadian ones, by Dutch old masters, as well as one of the most relevant collections of photography in North America.

Nevertheless, the current building of the Vancouver Art Gallery, a former courthouse dating to early-20th century, has become unfit to properly display more than a small part of the collections, as well as to give enough room to its vast program of events, creative workshops and educational activities of the museum.

Cover image: the new VAG view from West Georgia Street at night

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New VAG, view of the Gallery Lobby

Therefore, in 2014 the museum held an international design competition for a new home and selected the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron out of a short-list which also included Diller, Scofidio + Renfro (USA), Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (USA), KPMB Architects (Canada), and SANAA (Japan).

On September 29, 2015, the design for the new Vancouver Art Gallery has been unveiled in a public event at the Queen Elizabeth Theater.

The new building, located in the Larville Park site in downtown Vancouver, not far from the BC Place stadium and the Rogers Arena, is composed of a series of wood-clad boxes, stacked on one another.

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View across Queen Elizabeth Plaza

The museum’s upright building is designed so to shift its visual and physical bulk well above the street, thus creating a “semi-public” courtyard at the ground level, permeable to light and air, bordered by low-rise transparent structures which accommodate a free exhibition space, a cafeteria, a store, and a resource center.

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View of the Gallery Courtyard

From bottom to top, the museum volumes, housing the exhibition galleries, become progressively denser and more opaque, while two large terraces, overlooking the city, are located at the fifth and eighth floor.

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View of Gallery level 5 overlooking Queen Elizabeth Plaza and downtown

All images © Herzog & de Meuron, courtesy of Vancouver Art Gallery

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