Governor General’s Medal Winner: University of Manitoba ARTlab

Extending in front of Taché Hall, the fine arts building has a strong contemporary presence facing the campus’s main quadrangle.
Extending in front of Taché Hall, the fine arts building has a strong contemporary presence facing the campus’s main quadrangle.
LOCATION Winnipeg, Manitoba
ARCHITECTS Patkau Architects (design architect) with LM Architectural Group (architect of record)
PHOTOS Patkau Architects

This project began as a renovation to Taché Hall, a 1911 student residence at the University of Manitoba. When an opportunity arose for federal stimulus funding, the decision was made to develop a portion of the program separately, so that the design and construction could be expedited to meet funding deadlines. ARTlab, then, became the first piece in a multi-phase creative arts facility.

The 6,300-square-metre program consists principally of large spaces for the School of Art that complement small studio spaces within Taché Hall. Included are a national-standard gallery, a lecture hall, a soundstage, administration, and a variety of new and traditional media studios.

The entry is tucked beneath a massive overhang supported on sculpted columns.
The entry is tucked beneath a massive overhang supported on sculpted columns.

The volume of the ARTlab interlocks with that of Taché Hall, reinforcing the fact that the two buildings comprise an integrated arts facility. The extension of the north wing of the ARTlab in front of Taché Hall gives the building an emblematic presence on Duckworth Quadrangle, the principal outdoor space within the university campus.

To facilitate a critical urban connection to the Asper School of Business, south of the project, the north wing of the ARTlab is raised one storey above grade. The covered area below forms the entrance, creating a generous sheltered outdoor space for school and gallery events. Large V-shaped columns animate this space at an urban scale, mediating between the structural grid of the building and underground obstacles. The result is a lively courtyard caught between historic and contemporary campus buildings.

A feature staircase winds around the triangular atrium.
A feature staircase winds around the triangular atrium.

Above grade, a pair of bridges links the upper levels of the ARTlab to Taché Hall. Below grade, the ARTlab ties into the campus tunnel network, a key pedestrian circulation system during the bitterly cold Winnipeg winter months.

Within the ARTlab, a narrow atrium dynamically links all of the levels. Animated by south daylight, this atrium forms the central circulation space and social heart of the building.

On the ground and tunnel levels are the two principal public spaces of the building: the School of Art gallery and the lecture hall. Terraced seating at the base of the atrium creates a multi-level lobby that connects these two facilities, tying them to both at-grade and below-grade campus circulation. Studios and administration are on the upper floors to take advantage of natural light.

Painting studios enjoy diffuse north light and views of the campus.
Painting studios enjoy diffuse north light and views of the campus.

The exterior of the ARTlab juxtaposes modern construction with the historic masonry of Taché Hall. The north elevation is fully glazed, so that the studios enjoy diffuse daylight and, at the same time, provide a visible expression of the life of the School of Art to the public spaces below. The east and south elevations are reticent, landscaped walls. Aluminum grilles situated a metre from the face of the building support Virginia creeper vines, while shrouding sunlight and offering privacy from the nearby School of Business. Planted at the base of the walls, the creeper will eventually form a dense, seasonably variable, vertical xeriscape.

:: Jury :: The ARTlab brings art and music out of Taché Hall and in to the public realm of Duckworth Quadrangle, the University of Manitoba’s main outdoor space. The juxtaposition of new and old adds up to more than the sum of its parts. The architects give the older building a new face on campus. Circulation is a key theme, with a dramatic atrium connecting levels and glass bridges colliding with the historic brick walls. The exterior spaces beneath the new addition provide a protected entry sequence in Winnipeg’s harsh winters, while the interior provides stunning views back on to the campus, making for an inspiring environment to create works of art. There is a dynamic tension in the plan, creating simple yet idiosyncratic spaces inside and out.

CLIENT University of Manitoba | ARCHITECT TEAM Patkau Architects—John Patkau, Patricia Patkau, Greg Boothroyd, Stephanie Coleridge, Michael Cunningham, Dylan Gilmore, Marc Holland, Dimitri Koubatis, Maureen Kwong, Thomas Schroeder, Luke Stern, Peter Suter, Michael Thorpe. LM Architectural Group— Ken Duchnycz, David Kressock, Lloyd Mymko, Darrell Sawatzky, Greg Tomaszewski, Maria Verdun. | STRUCTURAL Crosier Kilgour & Partners | MECHANICAL SMS Engineering | ELECTRICAL MCW/AGE | LANDSCAPE Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram | CODE Gage Babcock & Associates Ltd. | ACOUSTICS Daniel Lyzun & Associates | A/V MC Squared System Design Group | SUSTAINABILITY Sustainable Solutions | SIGNAGE Gallop/Varley | COST Hanscomb | CONTRACTOR PCL Constructors Canada Inc.  | Area 6,300 M2 | BUDGET $24 M | COMPLETION February 2012