Canada’s largest donation to an art gallery planned for the Vancouver Art Gallery’s new building

A monumental donation to the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) to cover the cost of building its new home in Larwill Park in downtown Vancouver will be announced in under 24 hours.

VAG says it will hold an event Thursday to announce the details and complete the “signing of the official gift agreement,” which has been billed by art gallery officials as the “single largest monetary gift to an art gallery in Canadian history.”

In addition, tomorrow’s event will include the unveiling of a vague “new design.”

There are very few details available at the moment.

The donation to be announced will be more significant than Christian Chan’s family’s gift of $ 40 million for the new VAG building announced in January 2019, which at the time put VAG’s total private and public fundraising efforts at a total of $ 135 million.

The total includes $ 50 million from a 2008 provincial government commitment and $ 45 million from the private sector and other personal sources.

For its contribution, the city of Vancouver has donated the necessary land, about two-thirds of the Larwill Park apartment block, through a 99-year nominal lease. The remaining third of the block is temporarily used as modular housing, but the city intends to develop it into commercial office towers as a revenue-generating mechanism. The VAG’s available Larwill Park footprint is in the northeast corner of Cambie Street and West Georgia Street.

Larwill Park is divided into two lots: colored in red for the new Vancouver Art Gallery and colored in blue for office towers. (Vancouver by)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Duke & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Duke & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Based on the description, VAG’s inbound donation would be north of the Thomson family’s $ 70 million cash donation – known for its ownership of Reuters – to Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario’s grand expansion designed by Frank Gehry.

This contribution from the Thomson family from 2002 was paired with their $ 300 million donation in kind from the value of 2,000 pieces of privately owned art, bringing their original offering to $ 370 million. They later supplemented their original gift with an additional $ 30 million in cash, increasing their total contribution to a final statement of $ 400 million in cash and in kind combined. The contribution was a legacy from Kenneth Roy Thomson II, who died two years before the expansion opened.

There are also deep pockets in British Columbia for such a gift – mainly those that have made big waves in local property.

Westbank’s Ian Gillespie is in front of his head because of his very public affiliation with art and unique architecture, made clear by his firm’s works – everything from Vancouver House and its Spinning Chandelier to the skyline of towers that will form Senakw for the transformation of Oakridge Center ( recently renamed Oakridge Park).

Gillespie’s company also has significant assets in the immediate vicinity of the new VAG site, with the almost complete Deloitte Summit office tower just to the north and the Creative Energy steam plant right near the future art gallery. Approved plans for a modernized steam system include a new office tower that complements BC Place Stadium.

A unique partnership that covers a significant part of the construction costs and at the same time gives Gillespie the opportunity to design and build the new art gallery is not out of the question. Perhaps it could be related to the development of the City of Vancouver’s planned office towers at the north end of the Larwill Park area.

deloitte summit 400 west georgia street

Construction progress of Westbank’s Deloitte Summit office tower at 400 West Georgia Street, per. January 15, 2021. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

720 Beatty Street Vancouver Creative Energy

Artistic rendering of Westbank’s future office tower 720 Beatty Street, Vancouver. Perspective from Larwill Park. (Bjarke Ingels Group / HCMA Architecture & Design / Westbank)

Chip Wilson has also shown interest in art and has been making significant real estate games in the region ever since he left Lululemon.

Vancouver is also home to two families, each owning an NHL team.

The Aquilini family, owners of the Vancouver Canucks, have an expanding real estate business under their umbrella company in the Aquilini Investment Group.

The Dallas Stars are owned by the Gaglardi family, whose assets are under Northland Properties, including restaurant chains Denny’s Canada, Moxie’s Bar & Grill, Shark Club, Chop and CRAFT Beer Market, as well as the Sandman Hotel chain, Grouse Mountain Resort, and Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Concord Pacific’s Terry Hui can also be considered an option.

Jim Pattison’s conglomerate empire has funded some of the largest private donations ever made in British Columbia. Still, his gifts relate primarily to health projects, including $ 75 million for the new St. Paul’s Hospital in False Creek Flats.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Duke & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Duke & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

Vancouver Art Gallery

Artistic rendering of the final January 2019 design of the new Vancouver Art Gallery building. (Duke & de Meuron / Vancouver Art Gallery)

While a significant donation is on the way, the new VAG building has likely faced increases in construction costs, based on the recent market price escalation in materials and labor prices.

In 2015, VAG unveiled a 230-foot-tall concept of stacked wooden boxes, designed by Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron and Vancouver architect record Perkins + Will, with 310,000 sq ft of floor space, including 85,000 sq ft of exhibit space. Likewise, there will be significant public spaces available in the earth’s surface.

Six years ago, construction costs were estimated at $ 330 million, and an additional $ 50 million was targeted as an appropriation for long-term operating and maintenance costs. This was based on construction commenced in 2019 for completion in 2023.

For years, VAG has been hoping it would receive an additional $ 50 million from the provincial government and a $ 100 million contribution from the federal government. However, Ottawa’s contribution depends on Victoria’s approval.

The critical reception of Herzog & de Meuron’s designs has generally been mixed. Some have previously suggested that it does not stimulate inspiration for the necessary support from the general public to help with fundraising efforts.

In early 2021, it was reported by Business In Vancouver that plans for the new building were scaled down to reduce construction costs, reducing floor space from 310,000 to 270,000 sq ft, and other changes such as reducing ceiling heights and removing the sunken public. Garden. It will be clear on Thursday whether these changes represent the “new design”, or whether the design has been scrapped for a whole new concept.

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