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Vancouver Art Gallery hires Beijing Bird's Nest architects for new design

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The 'Bird's Nest' served as the venue for the Beijing Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies in 2008, and its design received waves of international praise.
— image credit: Wikimedia Commons (author Beast from the Bush)

Vancouver's new Art Gallery will have a high-profile touch, with Swiss-based architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron hired to complete the $300 million project.

The firm has previously worked on such iconic designs as the Tate Modern in London, England and the 'Bird's Nest' in Beijing, which served as the Games' venue for the 2008 Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

"Herzog & de Meuron's designs are recognized internationally for both their creativity and sensitivity to place," said Bruce Munro Wright, chair of the Gallery's Board of Trustees, in the VAG's release. "Their buildings not only effectively and elegantly meet the needs of their users, but also become places that are part of the cultural draw and identity of a city. We look forward to collaborating with Herzog & de Meuron to create an architecturally significant new museum that will be an important beacon for our city and enhance the cultural community of Vancouver and of the Province of British Columbia."

The firm, founded in 1978, beat out four other firms on the Gallery's shortlist for the Vancouver job. Herzog & de Meuron have also built well-known buildings in Miami, Basel, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

Of the four other firms considered, only one was Canadian – Toronto-based KPMB Architects.

"A new, expanded Vancouver Art Gallery will build Vancouver's creative economy and give local artists exposure to a broader audience," said Mayor Gregor Robertson, in the same release. "Congratulations to Herzog & de Meuron, who will be creating this important new cultural space in our downtown."

The new Art Gallery – located in Larwill Park at the intersection of West Georgia and Cambie Streets downtown – will be approximately 300,000 square feet. In its release, the gallery says it will release "conceptual designs" for the project in 2015, and it plans to raise an additional $150 million from the B.C. and federal governments by April, 2015.

The Vancouver Art Gallery has also already received a $50 million gift from the Province for its construction.

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