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News / January 9, 2014

Herzog & de Meuron, KPMB in Running to Redesign Vancouver Art Gallery

A view of the Vancouver Art Gallery's current building / photo Iwona Kellie via Flickr / Creative Commons A view of the Vancouver Art Gallery's current building / photo Iwona Kellie via Flickr / Creative Commons

The Vancouver Art Gallery has shortlisted five architectural firms as finalists for the design of its new home in downtown Vancouver: Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York), Herzog & de Meuron (Basel), KPMB Architects (Toronto), SANAA (Tokyo), and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (New York).

The shortlisted firms have substantial experience in designing new cultural facilities.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro worked on the High Line—the renowned railway-turned-art-park in New York—and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, including the redesign and expansion of the Juilliard School, Alice Tully Hall, and the School of American Ballet. It also worked on the Institute of Contemporary Art, the first new museum to be built in Boston in 100 years.

Herzog & de Meuron designed Tate Modern in London; the de Young Museum in San Francisco; and the recently opened Pérez Art Museum Miami. The firm has been awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, among others.

KPMB Architects is the sole Canadian firm shortlisted. It has led the design of Canada’s National Ballet School, the Gardiner Museum and the TIFF Bell Lightbox, among other projects. Its work has been honoured with 12 Governor General Medals.

SANAA has led design for several cultural institutions as well, including the Louvre-Lens Museum in France; the New Museum in New York; and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan. SANAA has also been awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Notable projects for Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects include the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia; the American Folk Art Museum in New York; and the Asia Society in Hong Kong.

The architects were chosen from a pool of 75 firms in 16 countries who applied through an open request for qualifications process. The gallery will conduct in-person interviews with each of the finalists in the coming months and expects to be able to announce the final architect in spring 2014.

As reported by Danielle Egan in the Fall 2013 issue of Canadian Art, the new Vancouver Art Gallery is expected to cost $350 million and be 95,000 square metres, with double the amount of exhibition space as the existing gallery. The VAG must raise some $150 million in private monies by mid-2015 in order to secure provincial and federal government grants for the new building. It is hoped that construction will begin in 2016 and that the building will be completed in 2019.

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is a writer and editor based in Toronto. Her arts journalism has appeared in the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications, and her creative work has been published in Prism, Room and Freefall. She can be reached via