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The Vancouver Sun reporter Kevin Griffin  gives the latest on the Vancouver Art Gallery’s missive to build the proposed Herzog & de Meuron-designed Vancouver Art Gallery building. This building has attracted a lot of comment due to its blocky appearance, the lack of any treatment on the ground plane, and the fact it has no interaction with any of the other buildings on the streetscape.

But never mind that-Anne Webb the associate director of the gallery discusses why this building architect and design are best. “I have followed the career of Herzog & de Meuron from the early days. I was thrilled to learn that they were chosen to be the architects. I feel that they are among the best architects for museum buildings because they put art and artists first. They work with artists and understand artists.”

Nice that the building is great for artists, but is it great for the community? And since the Vancouver Art Gallery is asking the federal government for $100 million towards building this behemoth, is it okay for citizens to want a design they can support too? One that has some streetscape interaction, and is inviting?

Ms. Webb was formerly managing director of contemporary culture for the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, which built the $300 million dollar controversial The Crystal addition  by starchitect Daniel Libeskind. Despite the estimates of 1.4 million annual visit projections, that didn’t happen, and are substantially less at about one million annually. The visitor complaints include the higher ticket price, an inhospitable entrance, and a confusing ground orientation.

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The Crystal-addition on Royal Ontario Museum

The submission to the Federal government states that the “goal is to raise $350 million for the new gallery: $300 million for construction and $50 million for an endowment.” The Province has already contributed $50 million and the City of Vancouver provided the land, valued at $100 million.  Privately, the gallery must raise $150 million dollars-$30 million has been raised so far.

Price Tags has already commented on locally developed options by well-known and respected architects to rejuvenate the current Vancouver Art Gallery site, which is truly the public space and meeting place in the city. But that location and concept has been dismissed. The Federal submission reads: “The renovated provincial courthouse has served the gallery and the community well over the past 30 years but, faced with an aging, deteriorating and overcrowded facility, the time has come for a new Vancouver Art Gallery.”

Stay Tuned.

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