KPMB Architects (Design Architect); Architecture49 (Architect of Record)
As one of Canada’s fasting growing urban communities and healthiest economies, the AGS is critical to the urban vitality of Saskatoon. It contributes to the realization of a 30-year plan to transform Saskatoon’s south downtown into the River Landing, an urban redevelopment project to create a cultural and community hub between the City and the River. The AGS is conceived as the civic heart of River Landing.
Since the Mendel Gallery opened its doors in 1964, the city has nearly doubled in size, diversified its economy, embraced a global perspective, and become known as the “Gateway to the New North”. The new AGS builds on the Mendel’s legacy to serve the city and its environs. The design responds to community, context, resources and program. It focuses equally on the gallery spaces and the spaces between the program to offer Saskatoon and its citizens a comfortable, engaging public realm through all seasons, and particularly during the extreme cold winter months.
The massing strategy responds to the L-shaped site located between 1st and 2nd Avenues. It faces south to the River, and east to one of a series of roundabouts that connect the City to the river bank. The form responds to the low, flat topography of Saskatchewan’s prairie landscape and evokes agrarian traditions of building indigenous low-rising, rectilinear sheds and barns. Four cantilevered horizontal volumes engage the River edge to the south and 2nd Avenue to the east. The south elevation spans the length of the site and the ground floor is fully glazed to provide continuous day-lit public spaces with access to the River. Entrances at each end integrate the gallery into the new pedestrian flows along the river bank.
Each of the four stacked horizontal volumes is designed as flexible loft space and oriented for views to the River. The horizontal stratification maximizes south exposure for views and access to natural sunlight. Double-height areas and atria draw light deep into the floorplate, optimizing the low sun angles for passive solar heat gains. Overhangs and screens block sunlight during warmer seasons. These and other architectural and technical strategies are designed to collectively achieve 50% lower energy consumption compared to international gallery standards.
Every public space on every level is organized to face the River. A central atrium organizes the plan. The atrium supports a daily range of amenities and special events. The ground floor features a generous connecting stair which initiates a continuous path – an interior, vertically connected Community Street - through all levels.
The exterior will be clad in a copper-coloured metal screen. The use of copper was inspired by one of Saskatoon’s historic architectural landmarks, the Bessborough Hotel (CNR, 1932).
The new architecture of the AGS simultaneously looks back and forward. It forges a strong relationship to the legacy of the Mendel and creates a platform to reinforce the role of art for the “advancement of Saskatoon as a creative city dedicated to life long learning."
102 Spadina Crescent East, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
City of Saskatoon, Vincent J. Varga Executive Director / CEO of Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan
124,000 s.f. purpose-built art gallery
KPMB Project Team
Bruce Kuwabara (design partner), Shirley Blumberg (partner-in-charge), Matthew Wilson (associate), Paulo Rocha (associate), Matthew Krivosudsky, Terry Kim, Marcus Colonna, David Poloway.
Grant Van Iderstine (principal-in-charge, project architect), Brad Cove (project coordinator), Neil Hulme, Marcus Colonna
Entuitive (structural), Crossey Engineering (mechanical), Mulvey + Banani (electrical), Lundholm Associates Architects (museum planning), Transsolar (climate), Turner & Townsend cm2r (cost), Daniel Lyzun & Associates (acoustics), Aercoustics Engineering Ltd. (vibration), Mulvey + Banani (security, IT, AV), Enermodal (LEED), MMM Group (civil, transportation), Leber | Rubes (building code), Enro/Creative Fire (signage); Tillotson Design Associates (lighting), Kaizen Foodservice Planning & Design (food services)
- 2011 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence