Behind the Striking Facade of a World-Class Gallery
In addition to being the capital of Canada’s New Brunswick province, the sleepy city of Fredericton (population 100,000) is an under-the-radar cultural destination, thanks largely to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. This world-class nonprofit exhibition space features more than 7,000 paintings, sculptures, and objects by a range of Canadian and international artists, among them J.M.W. Turner, Salvador Dali, and Lucian Freud. Also in its collection are numerous works by indigenous artists, and the institution aims to be inclusive in the broader sense, too. Courtesy of a recently completed addition by Toronto firm KPMB Architects, it can now better fulfill that ambition.
The 9,000-square-foot Harrison McCain Pavilion, the final phase of a multipart expansion, is the gallery’s new public face, encompassing an airy lobby with a café, a gift shop, and communal spaces. Its fanned form and precast concrete colonnade reference both the modernist main building it’s grafted onto as well as the classical architecture of the surrounding heritage district (including the landmarked 19th-century Legislative Assembly across the street, visible through floor-to-ceiling glass). The subtly concave facade and arclike slope of the front steps and ramped entrance, which derive from the riverfront site’s curved footprint, combine to create a sort of front porch effect.
The Exterior of This Art Gallery Building Design Hints at the Inside
“It’s like a pair of arms welcoming you,” KPMB founding partner Shirley Blumberg says. Inside the gallery, soft-gray concrete flooring, white walls, and double-height volumes were conceived as a backdrop for art-viewing and conversation alike.
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