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North Van's Presentation House Gallery eyes waterfront home
The world-renowned Presentation House Gallery is inching closer to being liberated from its current stifling space and securing a new home on the Lonsdale waterfront.
During Monday’s City of North Vancouver council meeting, PHG director and curator Reid Shier unveiled a striking design plan proposed for the foot of Lonsdale Avenue at the existing Cates Shed site, which is scheduled to be torn down.
Working with celebrated architectural design firm Patkau Architects, PHG has envisioned a new two-storey, 22,632-square-foot building with a reflective “skin” fashioned from an aluminum material that would be crumpled and then unfolded, explained Shier.
The gallery’s reflective exterior would take advantage of low ambient light and attract the eye of the passerby, even on a dreary winter day.
Inside the building, on the second floor, natural light will illuminate the 4,000-square-foot exhibition space with lofty ceilings. Adjacent to that area is public event space including a dramatic room with a large south-facing balcony for banquets and other functions.
The main floor would house a lobby, multi-purpose space and the potential for retail opportunities including a café and gallery gift shop. Admission to the gallery will cost $5 for adults and be free for children and youth.
Shier said given the gallery’s expanded scope, expenses are projected to rise to from their current level of $853,000 to approximately $1.9 million in year four of operation in 2020.
At the same time, gallery revenues are expected to almost double by 2016 from a 2012 level of $900,177.
“We are not projecting a deficit,” Shier assured council.
The PHG’s fundraising arm, the B.C. Photographic and Medial Arts Society, is anticipating raising $780,000 — almost double the current amount — in the new gallery’s first year from fundraising, sponsorships and memberships.
PHG currently operates out of an antiquated building at East Third Street and Chesterfield Avenue. The gallery’s curators have spent three decades showcasing some of the world’s most notable artists and photographers including Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol and Fred Herzog.
Its innovative programming has received mentions in esteemed publications such as the New York Times and Time magazine
“So we are very much on the radar of the international cultural community,” said Shier.
After Shier’s presentation, council was given an opportunity to ask questions about the proposed plans.
Coun. Pam Bookham was concerned about the size of the new building, given the original plan called for the PHG to be housed in the 17,000-square-foot Cates Shed.
“We engaged the public in quite an extensive public consultation with respect to the foot of Lonsdale site,” said Bookham. “Presentation House Gallery’s plans clearly completely disregard any of that input.”
Shier said the building’s footprint increased after the decision to tear down Cates Shed was made. He added, the CNV, which will own the building, had requested that retail space be added.
Coun. Guy Heywood, liaison for the North Vancouver Community Arts Council, called the new PHG “a very important cultural amenity at the waterfront.”
“This is probably going to take a view iterations to get all the way across the finish line,” added Heywood.
Mayor Darrell Mussatto capped off the discussion by pledging an equal financial commitment to the North Vancouver Museum and Archives, which is planning on moving into the “Pipe Shop” building at Shipbuilders’ Square.
“The museum does need to have some type of financial commitment in order for them to go forward,” said Mussatto. “There has to be something done with the museum. We need a community museum and we need something that is going to have our history.”
CNV council, at a July 15 meeting, gave conditional approval for use of the Pipe Shop. The city will also put up half of the $10 million pricetag for the new museum, in a deal that hinges on the proponents providing a solid fundraising feasibility study by next April.
Meanwhile, for the PHG project, the city has committed to contributing the land, staff time and $2.5 million in funding.
The PHG will host a joint open house with the city to discuss development plans for the foot of Lonsdale on Nov. 5 at Presentation House Cultural Centre (Third Street and Chesterfield Avenue).
A formalized PHG design plan will be brought before council in December or early 2014 for referral to public hearing for the broader foot of Lonsdale rezoning process.