August 27, 2010
by Canadian Architect
Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) and the University of Winnipeg officially opened the iconic Buhler Centre with Her Excellency Governor General Michaëlle Jean on August 26, 2010. For almost 40 years, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) has established a significant presence in the Winnipeg arts community, a presence that developed into world recognition when the Institute represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 2001, a first for an institution of its size. The new Institute in the Buhler Centre will support Plug In ICA’s efforts to increase its visibility and accessibility, while providing new and engaging social and learning activities to multiple communities. It will more than double Plug In ICA’s current exhibition space and has been constructed to meet international museum standards that will allow for Plug In ICA to bring in international works previously not seen in Winnipeg.
The facility is four storeys and 45,000 square feet in area. It is built on the site of the old United Army Surplus Sales store and sits adjacent the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The Buhler Centre marks the next wave of the University of Winnipeg’s expansion into the city’s downtown core, and will be the new permanent home of the city’s internationally recognized contemporary art gallery, PlugIn ICA. Along with the new gallery, the Buhler Centre is home to three other major tenants: the University of Winnipeg’s Faculty of Business, the University of Winnipeg’s Division of Continuing Education, and a restaurant. Situated at a prominent urban corner, the building is designed with an open portal at grade that allows pedestrians to cut through the building alongside the galleries. A second narrow cut through the building’s core is awash with natural light and forms an urban alleyway where student lounges, classrooms, and offices intersect.
Working closely with the design team, Winnipeg- and Berlin-based artist Rodney LaTourelle composed the interior colour scheme. Outside, the reflective tabs on the building’s façade are designed to capture the activity of the city along with those shifts of light that are particular to the Prairies. Like snow crystals in summer, the light effect is intended to acts as veil over the building’s exterior cladding comprised of insulated metal panels. The architects for the project are David Penner Architect and Peter Sampson Architecture Studio Inc. of Winnipeg in conjunction with DIN Projects. Three distinct practices, the firms formed a collective for this project in 2008. After 10 months of construction, the building opened in August.
plug in ICA at the buhler centre - photo by william eakin