The AGH Renewal project repositions the gallery as a major cultural destination in Ontario and participates in Hamilton’s downtown revitalization strategy. The redesign includes re-imaging the exterior, creating greater opportunities for civic engagement, and reconfiguring the interiors for more dynamic relationships between artifacts and space, but for less than a 10th of the cost and using local materials and talent.
The project was initiated in response to the deterioration of the original 1973 building envelope. The design is based on the concept of a ‘building around a building’. A new skin composed of insulated gold steel panels fits like a box over the existing structure, streamlining its irregular shape. The custom gold panels are a ‘made in Hamilton’ innovation that reflect the collaboration between the gallery, the architects and the local steel industry. Dofasco collaborated with KPMB to modify a common industrial product used for refrigerated warehouse facilities for an institutional application. The pavilion and sculpture garden on Commonwealth Square to the south of the gallery takes a failed experiment in “Plus 15” planning and creates a publicly accessible urban oasis.