British Columbia·Photos

Vancouver Art Gallery's new design fills public space void, says architect

The new design for the Vancouver Art Gallery adds much needed public space in the city, says Brian Wakelin, a Vancouver architect.

"It is a pivotal moment," says Brian Wakelin about the gallery design and future of Georgia Street

The new design for the Vancouver Art Gallery adds much needed public space in the city, says Brian Wakelin, a Vancouver architect. 

He believes Vancouver is under performing when it comes to public space.

"It's pretty good, but it's not awesome, it's not world class," said Wakelin, principal architect at PUBLIC. 

Part of the gallery's redesign proposal is to add a 40,000-square-foot public courtyard and lobby with a sunken garden which Wakelin says is a good start.

Larwill Park at Cambie and Georgia Streets in Vancouver will be the home of the new Vancouver Art Gallery. (CBC)

The 230-foot-tall, 310,000-square-foot wood and concrete design would be located at West Georgia and Cambie streets in downtown Vancouver.

Currently the site is a parking lot and is attached to the Queen Elizabeth Plaza, which Wakelin believes should be re-designed.

Bringing it to life

"It is a pivotal moment for the design," he said, suggesting that a path can be made from the new art gallery to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre that will bring even more life to Rogers Arena and BC Place. 

"Georgia street is a big necklace that could thread together all these little pieces, if they just set up and come to the table," said Wakelin. The Canada Post building is under utilized and could be part of re-designing the area, Wakelin added.

The proposed art gallery will have 85,000 square feet of exhibition space — more than double the size of the current location. It will also feature a new education centre that includes a 350-seat auditorium, library services and archives.

The City of Vancouver donated the space to the gallery, but the funding for the new building, designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, has yet to fall into place. 

The gallery says it will raise an estimated $350 million, but so far only a fraction of the cost has been raised.

VOTE: What do you think of the new design?

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Vancouver Art Gallery's new design fills public space void, says architect with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.


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