'Iconic' Audain Art Museum building gets public thumbs up 

Architects present details of 39,000 sq.-ft. gallery to Whistler Advisory Design Panel

click to enlarge HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS An architectural rendering of the proposed Audain art museum
  • HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS An architectural rendering of the proposed Audain art museum

Public response to the Audain Art Museum's design was found to be overwhelmingly positive at an open house presentation by its design team at Millennium Place on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

Whistlerites had a chance to look at a model and drawings of the building after John Patkau of Vancouver's Patkau Architects offered a brief overview of the plans.

The long three-storey building looks rectangular from the approach, but its side view shows a steep A-line roof slope that makes up the majority of the building's shape in order to facilitate snow sliding from the building in the winter.

The main entry to the building will come from a ramp and bridge located on Blackcomb Way, which will take visitors to the art museum's entry porch located within the building.

"It will be a beautiful building and a wonderful asset," said Joe Redmond, after the presentation.

"It's sensitive to the landscape. It's an iconic building. It's something that will sit in the landscape and be quite remarkable," said Michael Audain's grandson, Cameron Sutherland, who has grown up with his grandfather's extensive collection of art.

"It's kind of like a long house, in a way," Sutherland said. "Everything sounds great... I've grown up with it (the art), so it's great he's going to be able to share that with everyone else too."

Local artist Lisa Geddes said she liked the building's understated quality.

"I think what I like most about it is that it's so responsive to the site," she said. "It's going to be an iconic building, not in 'wow' architecture, but iconic in that it's going to settle into the landscape beautifully."

Susan Smith echoed that sentiment while looking over the model.

"I like the smooth, clean lines and the simplicity of it," she said. "It's a very different shape and size from most of the art museums I've seen."

The open house collected commentary from the public ahead of the Resort Municipality of Whistler's rezoning of the land between parking day lots 3 and 4 to allow for a museum.

Earlier in the day, representatives of the Audain Foundation board and Patkau's architect team behind the Audain Art Museum made the first review presentation of their vision for the building to the eight-man Whistler Advisory Design Panel.

The building will be 39,000 sq. ft. in total size over two floors, with gallery space taking up 13,300 sq. ft., making it a third the size of the Vancouver Art Gallery, said Patkau.

The main floor would house gallery space, a shop, and bathrooms, while the upper floors will house a boardroom, administration, and a caretaker's condo space to allow someone to live at the facility full time.

Twenty-five per cent of the gallery space would be for temporary exhibitions, of which presenters hoped there would be two each year, with changeovers of the exhibits taking place during the spring and fall shoulder seasons.

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