- Project Name
- Audain Art Museum
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 56,000 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
Structural Engineer: Equilibrium Consulting,Lighting Designer: HLB Lighting Design,Civil Engineer: Creus Engineering,Landscape Architect: PFS Studio,Landscape Architect: Tom Barratt,Snow Management: Mountain Resort Engineering,Museum Consultant: Lord Cultural Resources,Exhibition Design: Bricault Design,Construction Manager: Axiom Builders
- Project Status
“A beautiful, dynamic project that literally wraps users around nature, blurring the boundaries between manmade and natural.” —Jury statement
Michael Audain is one of Canada’s most prominent real estate developers and philanthropists, as well as a major art collector with a special affinity for both traditional and modern paintings and sculpture from his native British Columbia. To house his considerable stash of local masterworks, Audain commissioned Vancouver-based Patkau Architects to create a 56,000-square-foot private museum just outside the scenic ski resort of Whistler, and the designers responded with a building whose siting and style chimes with the regional themes of the collection and the cultural values of the client.
With a site located in a grassy plain that has hills on one side and a narrow stream on the other, the team recognized that the project would have to contend with immense annual precipitation plus additional runoff from the spring thaws, which flow down the slopes and soak into the marshy soil. Their solution was to lift the central volume off the ground, tethering it to the earth with an elegant staircase that opens up from a hatch in the belly of the building like the gangway of some mysterious spacecraft.
The seasonal blizzards that dump masses of snow atop the exhibition spaces are addressed by a pitched roof along the main body of the building, as well as other gabled appurtenances for windows and entryways, ensuring that the nearly 15 feet of white stuff that can fall in an average year are conducted to the ground as quickly as possible. And under that roof, crisp interiors in white and wood underline the Audain Art Museum’s remarkable blend of earthiness and ethereality.
Project: Audain Art Museum
Client: Audain Art Museum
Architect: Patkau Architects, Vancouver, British Columbia . John Patkau, AIA, Patricia Patkau, Hon. FAIA, David Shone, Michael Thorpe, Mike Green, Marc Holland, Cam Koroluk, Dimitri Koubatis, Tom Schroeder, Luke Stern, Peter Suter, David Zeibin (project team)
Construction Manager: Axiom Builders
Structural: Equilibrium Consulting
M/E: Integral Group
Lighting: HLB Lighting Design
Civil: Creus Engineering
Landscape: PFS Studio; Tom Barratt
Code Consultant: LMDG Building Code Consultants
Building Envelope: Spratt Emanuel Engineering
Flood Proofing: Kerr Wood Leidal
Geotechnical: GeoPacific Consultants
Snow Management: Mountain Resort Engineering
Museum consultant: Lord Cultural Resources
Exhibition Design: Bricault Design
Size: 56,000 square feet
FROM THE AIA:
The Audain Art Museum is a private museum built to house and exhibit Michael Audain’s personal art collection, including British Columbia art from the late 18th century to the present. The design navigates three main determinants by connecting local culture with the permanent collection and traveling exhibits of all kinds, by spanning the revegetated floodplain of Fitzsimons Creek, and by strategically shedding the enormous snowfall typical of Whistler. The building’s minimal interiors recede behind the art and its calm exterior foregrounds the natural landscape.
FROM THE 2018 AIA INSTITUTE HONOR AWARDS FOR ARCHITECTURE JURY:
A beautiful, dynamic project that literally wraps users around nature, blurring the boundaries between man-made and natural. It creates a cultural magnet to help educate not only art, but eco-friendly design. The elegant structure hovers over a floodplain topography in an area that receives a large amount of snowfall, battling the elements through an architectural form that embraces the setting. Opportunity for people to live with art. The typology of the building is a stepping stone for Canada, a new icon, and a monument for British Colombia. It has helped elevate all of us.
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The Audain Art Museum is a 56,000 square foot private museum located in Whistler, British Columbia. It will house Michael Audain’s personal art collection which traces a visual record of British Columbia from the late 18th century to the present day. It includes one of the world’s finest collections of old First Nation masks, a superb collection of Emily Carr paintings, and works by some of Canada’s most significant post-war artists including Jack Shadbolt, E. J. Hughes, and Gordon Smith, as well as works by internationally regarded contemporary artists such as Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Stan Douglas and others.
The design of the museum is shaped by three powerful determinants. The first determinant is the need to house both the permanent exhibition of Michael Audain’s collection and, in juxtaposition with this collection, temporary exhibits of all kinds from across Canada and around the world. The second determinant is the beautiful but challenging site in Whistler which, although blessed by magnificent evergreen forest vegetation, is located within the floodplain of Fitzsimmons Creek. The third determinant is the enormous snowfall typical of Whistler which averages nearly 15 ft annual accumulated depth.
Our design responds to these determinants, simply and directly, by projecting a volume of sequential public spaces and galleries into an existing linear void within the surrounding forest. It is elevated a full story above the ground and crowned with a steeply sloped roof, containing administration and back-of-house support functions.
The building design and siting work synergistically within the context of the site to create a public pedestrian link, beginning from the ‘village stroll’, the pedestrian spine of Whistler Village, across Blackcomb Way, leading to and through the Museum and then across the site to Fitzsimmons Creek park. A bridge from Blackcomb Way rises through the forest to arrive at a sky lit museum entry porch. From there, visitors can either descend to the forest floor and central meadow to continue passage through the site, or enter into the museum lobby and event space. Once inside, visitors proceed along a glazed walkway overlooking the meadow below, to gain access first to the galleries which contain the permanent collection and then to the galleries which contain temporary exhibits.
The form and character of the building and interiors is deliberately restrained to provide a quiet, minimal backdrop to the art within and the surrounding natural landscape. The simple form of the exterior is clad in an envelope of dark metal which recedes into the shadows of the surrounding forest. Where this envelope is opened, to provide access in the entry porch or view from the glazed walkway to the galleries, the dark metal is overlaid by a luminous wood casing. Public spaces in the interior, which are visible from the exterior, continue this warm luminous materiality. Gallery interiors in both the permanent and temporary exhibition areas are closed white volumes with minimal detail.