Herzog & de Meuron has finalized the design of the 300,000-square-foot Vancouver Art Gallery and has released new renderings of the top-heavy timber building.

The $350 million arts complex in Vancouver, Canada, also has a new name. After a $40 million private donation from the Chan family on January 23, the Vancouver Art Gallery (the organization responsible for the building’s programming) announced that the building would be renamed the Chan Centre for the Visual Arts. The gift is the largest single private donation in the history of British Columbia and has brought the amount raised for the building to $85 million. That marks an important figure as the provincial government has pledged that it would donate $50 million if the Vancouver Art Gallery were able to raise $100 million in private funds.

The newly-revealed design for the Chan Centre presents an airy update to the scheme that was initially presented in 2015. Herzog & de Meuron has kept the stacked, seven-story massing, but replaced the opaque timber facade with fluted glass screens that are supposed to resemble stacked logs. The building rises from a narrow footprint to cut down on its impact on the street and create a covered open-air courtyard at ground level.

Rendering of a ticketing stand

The building’s overhangs will protect a courtyard from the weather. (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron)

The arts center expands as it rises, creating covered areas protected from the summer sun and winter rain and snow. It appears that Herzog & de Meuron has leaned more heavily into timber than in the original scheme, using wood for a majority of the interior finishes, columns, and supportive elements. Once complete, the center will hold classrooms, 85,000 square feet of gallery spaces, a theater, reading rooms, shops, and restaurants. Even the building’s location is hub-like; it lies at the intersection of the Downtown Vancouver, East Vancouver, Chinatown, Yaletown, and Gastown neighborhoods.

“The project for the new Vancouver Art Gallery has a civic dimension that can contribute to the life and identity of the city,” said senior Herzog & de Meuron partner Christine Binswanger, “in which many artists of international reputation live and work. The building now combines two materials, wood and glass, both inseparable from the history and making of the city. We developed a facade out of glass logs which is pure, soft, light, establishing a unique relation to covered wooden terraces all around the building.”

Rendering of a timber plaza

The building’s stepped massing will create shielded outdoor areas throughout the building. (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron)

Fundraising is ongoing, with the Vancouver Art Gallery looking to raise $300 million for the building’s construction and $50 million to establish an endowment. If all goes as planned, construction is expected to start either late this year or in early 2020, with an opening planned for some time in 2023. Perkins+Will Vancouver is the project’s executive architects.

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