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News / May 8, 2013

Slideshow: Plans Revealed for Audain Art Museum

The plans have been revealed for art collector and philanthropist Michael Audain’s art museum in Whistler—and they show big changes ahead if the plan is approved by the municipality’s council.

Audain originally said he would like to build a 27,000-square-foot art museum surrounded by a spruce forest—plans announced yesterday are for a 56,000-square-foot structure, nearly twice the size. (To view the plan’s details, as well as some of the works intended to be shown in the museum, click on the Photos icon above.) The new building plan is to be presented to Whistler’s council this week.

“We realized that we would outgrow the smaller version within a decade and concluded that to expand the structure in the future would be so expensive that it just would not make sense,” Audain said in a release. “We wanted to do it right from the outset, so we went back to the drawing board and revised the plan. The museum’s exhibition galleries will now exceed 20,000 square feet, over half the area of those in the Vancouver Art Gallery. The expansion will allow us to host larger temporary exhibitions from the world’s great museums.”

The building model shows a long, low structure among trees. According to Pique Newsmagazine, the gallery site is located between two day-use parking lots in a zone that has formerly been used as an impound lot. The Globe and Mail reported that only a single tree would need to be felled in order to build the new gallery.

“With the reworked design, the Audain Art Museum will still be discreet and embedded in the forest,” John Patkau, principal of Patkau Architects, said in a release. “Adding the additional space won’t change the overall zen-like feel of the museum,” he contended.

In October 2012, the Resort Municipality of Whistler announced it would lease the land for 199 years. Audain pledged to stock the museum with works from his art collection and, at a news conference yesterday, he confirmed that his family foundation will provide the funding to design and construct the museum, which is expected to be $30 million.

Should the new plan be approved by the municipality, Audain anticipates construction will start this summer with completion expected in early 2015. Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden has so far been a vocal supporter of the project.