Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment in Canada by KPMB Architects
June 20th, 2018 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: KPMB Architects
The Ottawa Art Gallery expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment involves the careful integration of a new building and the redistribution of arts organizations within the existing Arts Court complex to create an integrated arts community. The project is a priority of the City of Ottawa Renewed Action Plan for Arts Heritage and Culture (2013-2018). Included in the project are: a new home for the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG), a new 120-seat black box theatre and rehearsal studios for the University of Ottawa (UOttawa), a new 245-seat OAG multi-purpose screening room, repurposed space within the existing Arts Court complex, and a 21-storey private sector tower that will house a Le Germain hotel and private condominium with underground parking. The project aspires to create a destination for patrons of the arts as well as provide identity for the OAG and the other arts organizations currently housed in the Arts Court. The new exterior north entry court and interior atrium off Daly Avenue shall serve to provide a new accessible entrance and central hub for all of the arts organizations within the expanded Arts Court. Located one level up from the North entry court on Daly Avenue is the OAG lobby with its’ main entrance and associated South entry court off Waller Street. Taken together these two entry courts define a north -south axis of clearly delineated address and circulation. Equally important and working in tandem with these access points is the east-west axis which is defined by the extension of the existing primary circulation corridor in the existing Arts Court building. The new building and the existing complex will be linked along this axis at the concourse, main, and second floor levels. This east-west axis is immediately accessible from the North Atrium at the concourse level and the OAG lobby at the main level and terminates at the SAW Gallery entry court at the west and the UOttawa entry on the east. This linkage is critical to the success of the project and requires the relocation of an existing exit stair that is currently located at the eastern end of the existing corridor effectively blocking the proposed connection.
A critical objective of the project is conveying the importance of city building through the creation of quality accessible public spaces, both externally and internally. All three entry courts strive to engage the public through the creation of inviting landscaped plazas and terraces with ample seating. The SAW Gallery entry court incorporates stepped seating in support of programming for outdoor film and video screenings. The north entry court includes a bosque of honey locusts with seating beneath them in support of the north atrium cafe. The south entry court features a series of linear planters with ginko trees which provide seating and mediate between the entry terrace and the sloping grade of the sidewalk. Internally, the multi-storey north atrium contains a cafe and will bring light into the center of the complex at the juncture between the primary circulation axes. A central feature stair will promote vertical movement and interaction amongst the buildings users connecting all levels. Roof terraces are strategically located within the new construction to provide various opportunities for outdoor activities and views of the city and Parliament Hill.
Fundamental to the project is the idea of identity and address (entrance) for each of the key programmatic elements: OAG, U Ottawa, Arts Court, SAW Video, SAW Gallery/Club SAW, and the private sector (LeGermain and Condo). The formal composition of the project is meant to clearly articulate the various programmatic elements and to create a complementary relation of new to old through the use of critical alignments both in plan and elevation and juxtaposition of architectural language and materiality. The location of the OAG volume in the composition allows for critical views to the historic gaol building gallows. The volume of the OAG is defined by its perforated white mesh cladding and presents a distinct volume to its Waller Street primary address. It has been conceptualized as a levitated box which provides “a beacon for art in the city.” The OAG lobby will include a repurposed and restored heritage stair from the Firestone House in celebration of the importance of the Firestone collection. The new building will include three new galleries (Firestone, Permanent Collection and Changing Exhibition) as well as two project rooms all built to modern museum standards.
The University of Ottawa gets its identity from the volume of the black box theatre which is clad in a charcoal coloured block that is intended as a modern interpretation of the existing heritage stone walls. On the north side of the new complex, hovering above the north entry court and atrium is the seemingly suspended volume of the Multi-purpose room clad in anthracite coloured zinc. It is strategically located on the 2nd floor to be adjacent to the existing theatre and studio spaces to allow for the facility to accommodate annual live performance and film festivals. The flexible design of the Multi-purpose room is intended to accommodate art exhibitions, the viewing of film and video as well as theatrical performances, galas and dinners.
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