The conceptual design for the Vancouver Art Gallery was unveiled yesterday. It’s a perfect Vancouver building. There’s no extraneous swirls or doodads ala Gehry, just a thoughtful response to the program and site.
There are echoes of the architecture of coastal First Nations, the Pacific Rim (it’s almost pagoda like in some aspects) and the city. In this design we acquire the public square we’ve been searching for as the proposal keeps the site open and accessible at ground level. The simple fact of keeping the short cuts across the site that people use everyday as they leave or head to SkyTrain will help animate the new square. Arthur Erickson envisioned something like this for Robson Square but the transit station which the sunken space under Robson Street was designed for never materialized.
The design also takes on Bob Rennie’s idea of splitting the VAG into separate buildings throughout the downtown, but does so all on the site with a series of distinct and separate gallery spaces which offer so many possibilities.
It’s a perfect Vancouver building.