Designing The Rennie Art Gallery and Office was as much an exercise in creativity, as it was in restraint; with the rich cultural history of the Wing Sang building, the requirements of a contemporary real estate marketing firm, and the flexibility needed to house an internationally acclaimed collection of contemporary art. The challenge lay in designing a building that celebrates the tenuous balance between the pragmatic and the artistic, the historic and the avant-garde. Moreover, it meant our role was to amplify the existing voice of the building, not drown it out through design.
This project included a 3-story street fronting heritage building, with a 6-story tenement block to the rear. To satisfy both the contemporary needs and historic aesthetic, a series of office and gallery spaces were carved from the original building. Floor slabs and structural beams were taken out of the existing building at the back to create a 3-story high gallery with clean, modern lines. This offered a variety of spaces for an ever-changing collection of art and sculpture, while the inside was finished simply in order to reveal parts of the original masonry.
In an effort to reuse existing building materials, reclaimed timber was used for flooring and purpose-built millwork in the reception and office areas. The original schoolroom, which is the oldest schoolroom in Vancouver, was preserved as a meeting room and the heritage facade was restored in an effort to preserve the legacy of the building.
Meanwhile, all structures were seismically upgraded to adhere to building codes and provide a strong and resilient space to conduct business. A roof top garden was lined with Corten steel decking to allow for an outdoor venue for a sculpture garden and spectacular views of Chinatown and Downtown Vancouver.
Upon its completion, this project was the recipient of an AIBC Special Jury Award.
2. Wood doors/windows
3. Glazing systems
4. Corten steel
6. Architectural concrete