vancouver art gallery has received $100 million (canadian dollars) from the audain foundation towards the construction of a new 90-meter-tall building designed by herzog & de meuron. described by the gallery as a ‘transformational gift’, it’s the largest single cash donation given to an art museum in canada.


michael audain — art collector, philanthropist, and chairman of canadian homebuilders polygon home — signed the official document on november 4th, 2021. his donation has also signaled a ‘revitalized’ design. as reported by news outlet CBC, the massive financial boost was only granted because the architects agreed to update the project to better reflect the area’s first nation communities. 

herzog & de meuron's vancouver art gallery receives historic $100M donation
images courtesy of herzog & de meuron





the new art gallery building is to be sited on larwill park in downtown vancouver. herzog & de meuron’s design features a stacked form that aims to address the human scale while also creating a sculptural and recognizable public building. 


the glass and timber elevational treatment of the previous design has been updated with copper-toned metal. the architects say ‘the referencing of copper in the design of the façade is the result of a dialogue with local artists, and stems from the fact that objects made of copper, often elaborately embossed, bent, and colored, carry a powerful message amongst many first nations peoples of british columbia.’ 


the copper surface developed in collaboration with local indigenous artists is woven like traditional textiles and perforated, creating a light, textured appearance. timber is applied to the four ‘cores’ underneath to reflect the building material historically used in british columbia, from the indigenous coast salish peoples’ longhouses to city expansion in the 20th century. 

herzog & de meuron's vancouver art gallery receives historic $100M donation
the extruded façades feature a woven copper-toned metal



the new building is to provide a gross floor area of 45,311 sqm with a variety of gallery spaces to accommodate different permanent collections, temporary exhibitions, as well as spaces for artistic practice. the program also features new educational facilities that include a 350-seat auditorium, various workshops and a resource center for research, library services and artist archives.


visitors enter the art gallery via a courtyard, which is accessible on three sides and framed by a continuous low-rise street front building that echoes the low wooden structures of early vancouver. this perimeter building will house various public functions including a bar, café, shop and restaurant as well as a community project space, daycare center and artist-in-residence ateliers. the courtyard is designed as a place for meeting and gathering and is filled with generously landscaped garden beds. 


audain’s $100 million donation means there’s $160 million left to raise to meet the $400 million budget. vancouver art gallery CEO anthony kiendl has expressed optimism for the building breaking ground in 2022. 


see designboom’s previous coverage of the new vancouver art gallery here.



project info:


name: vancouver art gallery

location: vancouver, canada

client: the vancouver art gallery association


design consultant: herzog and de meuron

executive architect: perkins & will

landscape design: PFS

structural engineering: fast + epp


facade engineering: RDH

traffic consultant: bunt & associates

vertical transportation: arup

building code: GHL consultants

civil engineering: aplin martin

sustainability & passive house: RDH

woven metal facade & environmental sustainability: ad-hoc artists initiative


site area: 84,579 sqm

gross floor area (GFA): 45,311 sqm

number of levels: 10

footprint: 4,092 sqm

length: 90 m

width: 72 m

height: 68 m

façade surface: 16,876 sqm