The Lower Mainland's premier venue for artistic photography now has developed plans for its new home on the City of North Vancouver's central waterfront.
Presentation House Gallery director Reid Shier updated council Monday night on the preliminary designs, business plan and fundraising efforts for the gallery - all part of an agreement between the city and gallery board.
The city has agreed to put up the land and $2.5 million to help fund the $15-million project as part of the central waterfront's revitalization.
If the preliminary designs presented Monday are brought to life, Presentation House Gallery will vacate its cramped space on Chesterfield Avenue at Third Street in 2016 and move into a 22,632-square-foot, twostorey gallery just south of Carrie Cates Court at the foot of Lonsdale.
The upper floor, which juts out over a public plaza on the east side, will be used as the main gallery and venue rental space and the main floor will house an open reception area, a possible cafe and book store and two commercial storefronts, which will be rented out to offset overall costs.
The city will remain the owner of the new gallery building.
Council was generally enthused about the building's design including its outer facade - a reflective metallic surface that has been crumpled and unfolded - something that came from the gallery giving design firms an "exercise in architectural adventurism," Shier said.
"They want to create a skin that really takes advantage of low levels of ambient light to create something that's really quite dramatic, the thinking being that we live in North Vancouver in an environment that's often particularly clouded seven or eight months of the year.. ..
"To create a building that really shines in low levels of light or in cloud, that really offers to be a beacon even when the sun's not shining," Shier said.
Some on council, however, expressed hesitance at PHG's business plan, which calls for an increase in revenues from the current $900,000 per year to just under $1.8 million by opening in 2016. The plan also calls for a boost in fundraising from the current $358,000 per year to $780,000.
"With all respect to Mr. Shier and the gallery, those are very aggressive numbers and this is not a good economy. It's not a good economy to be going out to raise funds for anything, least of all a photographic gallery," said Coun. Rod Clark after throwing his support behind the plan.
Shier said he is confident in the business plan and the methods it lays out for keeping Presentation House in the black.
When it comes to the quality and desirability of the exhibits Presentation House brings to North Vancouver, the gallery has been punching above its weight for decades Mayor Darrell Mussatto noted, to which Shier modestly agreed.
"We receive reviews in international publications. Our most recent exhibition was written up in the Financial Times. We were mentioned in the New Yorker magazine and
Time magazine," he said. "We are very much on the radar of the international cultural community but the value we can bring here is in making something uniquely special happen in this spot."
That reputation was earned, he noted, while existing in a "really rotten building" on Third and Chesterfield.
"I can only imagine the things that we'll be able to bring once we're properly located in a good building at a fantastic location next to public transport where people can walk by and come and see what we're doing," he said.
The city and gallery's board of directors were originally hoping to move the gallery into a refurbished Cates Tug building, however the building was in such disrepair and the soil underneath it in such need of remediation, the move would have been prohibitively expensive.
After having their say, council members voted to release $250,000 already set aside in a reserve fund for Lower Lonsdale amenities to continue the design and fundraising plan.
PHG is hosting an open house on its future plans on Nov. 5. The reborn gallery will come up for a rezoning and public hearing in the new year.
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