December 16, 2009
by Canadian Architect
Designed by Los Angeles-based Randall Stout Architects, the renovation and expansion of the new Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) will be completed and open to the public in January 2010. An engaging and inviting visual arts centre prominently located on Sir Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton – the city’s arts and government core, the addition/renovation project has upgraded and expanded the original 1960s Brutalist concrete structure with galleries and art-handling facilities, featuring a significant increase in the number of exhibition spaces, including gallery space for the AGA’s permanent collection of more than 5,000 pieces of art. Additionally, a new off-site collection storage facility was completed as part of the first phase of the New Vision project.
An expanded art education centre doubles the number of classroom/studio spaces, complemented by a new restaurant, gallery shop, and the renovation of a 150-seat theatre. New celebratory public event areas have been incorporated, like the soaring four-storey entry lobby, the Gallery Great Hall, a multi-purpose theatre, a café, a gallery shop, a “floating” private members’ lounge, and an outdoor sculpture terrace. Edmonton’s underground light rail transportation system (LRT) and public pedway are accessible from the main entry lobby. The new building totals 84,000 square feet, adding 27,000 square feet of new public spaces and galleries and approximately 24,000 square feet of interior exhibition space.
The duality of Edmonton’s urban grid layout juxtaposed against the winding contours of the North Saskatchewan River is reflected in the square and curved components of the new design, while the swirling forms of the Aurora Borealis provided inspiration for the building’s main stainless steel feature. Selected to reflect Edmonton’s dramatic weather patterns and the extreme contrast of the long days of summer and the short days of winter, the materials of steel, glass and zinc create a dynamic quality that allow the building to transform along with Edmonton’s natural surroundings and extreme seasonal changes.
To complement and contrast with the exterior, materials were selected for the interior to exude warmth and refinement. Ebonized hardwood maple sheathes the floors on two levels of galleries, while golden brown Douglas Fir is used extensively for wall and ceiling treatments.
From its inception, the new AGA design has incorporated sustainable design strategies and energy concepts that bring their own aesthetic characteristics to the building design palette that includes the consideration of form, space, light, shadow, and materiality. Collectively, these elements yield a cohesive and integrated solution to environmental considerations. This solution not only makes the space more pleasant and comfortable for the occupants, but will limit the use of non-renewable natural resources throughout the life of the project.
For more information, please visit www.youraga.ca