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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Art Gallery of Alberta opens to reveal its true inspiration
Swooping steel meshes with glass and zinc reflecting the changing light of the day and seasons of the year – it is in fact nature that fed this unnatural creation, the Art Gallery of Alberta which opens this Sunday (31 Jan). The architect, Randall Stout of Randall Stout Architects, absorbed the majesty of the swirling forms of the Aurora Borealis so visible in Edmonton, Canada, and put pen to paper with dramatic effect. The urban grid layout of the city which sits comfortably aside the meandering Saskatchewan River furthered Stout’s vision as he drew square and curved components together in unity. For any doubters, let it be known – Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, was the true inspiration for Stout’s gallery.

The gallery was founded in 1924 with the aim of promoting the knowledge, enjoyment and cultivation of the fine arts and to preserve historical relics. In its almost 90 year history the gallery has proved so successful that its collection has ballooned to unmanageable proportions. An extension twenty years ago failed to successfully provide the necessary storage with outdated mechanics now deeming the facility redundant. While twelve years ago plans were put forward for a $12million renovation, they were rejected by Edmonton Art Gallery Board in favour of a new building which was thereafter sought to represent Alberta and the collections within the Art Gallery itself.

In line with modern expectations the new gallery brings not just additional gallery space but also a restaurant and a gallery shop. Combined with the renovation of the existing 150 seat theatre and expanded Art Education Centre, additional purpose is brought to the facility. The area of classroom and studio space is doubled in the expansion and rental space for functions is unique with options of the main floor atrium (with 26 m height), an outdoor sculpture court or the ‘floating’ private lounge.

Around 80% of the exhibition space is dedicated to temporary collections and so a neutral canvas is created within most of the interior volume to allow the art to express itself, with the exception of the atrium and stairways which continue the flowing expression from the elegant exterior.

The building stands as an icon of both its surroundings and its contents expressing this symbolism with a combination of reflective materials and an artificial ‘borealis’ white light installation which contrasts with the reflection of the dark night’s sky on the undulating stainless steel facade. A tribute to the natural beauty of Alberta.

Niki May Young
News Editor
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Grand Avenue

Grand Avenue emerges as third contender for Broad Art Museum
While Berkeley reels from the disappointment of losing its planned Ito-designed museum, another California city will soon be celebrating the addition of a new Broad Museum. Which city it will be, however, is yet to be determined. Currently three cities are in the running for the Broad Museum- Beverley Hills, Santa Monica and Los Angeles. And while it appeared that Santa Monica was close to sealing a deal for the museum, Los Angeles emerged last week as a serious contender with the news that the City was in official talks with Broad about locating the museum on Grand Avenue - a move which could jumpstart the stalled multibillion dollar Grand Avenue development project, which was sidelined amidst the global credit crunch.

Designed by Frank Gehry and developed by the Related Companies, the Grand Avenue project is the centerpiece in the downtown’s revitalization. The project has drawn comparisons to the Champs-Elysées of Paris, with its tree-lined streets, upscale shopping and high-rise condos. Located across from the Walt Disney Concert Hall and in close proximity to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (MOCA), it is an excellent location for an art museum. And Broad must think so too, as he had a big hand in forming the cultural district that is located there. He helped raise $30 million for the Disney Concert Hall and pledged another $30 million to MOCA, where its newly appointed museum head, Jeffrey Deitch, is said to be urging Broad to locate his museum there.

But Eli Broad didn’t get to be billionaire Eli Broad by taking direction from others. And, while this location has a lot going for it, lets not forget that Broad holds a special place in his heart for Beverly Hills and has said publicly that it is his preferred location. But the deal with Beverly Hills is complicated - the site under consideration, at Santa Monica and Wiltshire Boulevards, can't provide enough parking and requires the acquisition of privately-held land before it can move forward, which is a considerable drawback. Broad, now 76, wants to move forward with the project ASAP.

While some have characterized Broad as a bit of mystery man and elusive when it comes to answering questions about the museum’s location, he has been abundantly clear from the start that he is weighing his options and will make a decision in the spring. Until then, the museum is very much in play. One thing is for certain, though. The $40-60 million museum that Broad plans to build to house his 20,000 piece collection of contemporary art and fund with a $200 million endowment, will be a good get for any municipality. Stayed tuned for the much-anticipated decision.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

University of Sydney student returns to revamp law school
Following an international design competition, Francis Jones Morehen Thorp (fjmt) was commissioned to transform a key site into a new campus for the University of Sydney's law faculty. Inaugurated in 1855, it was the first law school to be established in Australia. After nearly 120 years in Phillip Street Sydney it moved to the heart of the University of Sydney's Camperdown campus.

Designed by one-time Sydney University medallist Richard Francis-Jones, it overlooks Victoria Park towards the centre of Sydney, and features 16 seminar rooms, four 100-seat lecture theatres, a 300-seat auditorium and a ‘moot court’ that gives students simulated first-hand court experience.

Professor Gillian Triggs, Dean of Sydney Law School said: “The architects have designed an elegant and spacious structure that cannot fail to inspire our academic staff, administrators and students. A functional and beautiful environment respects those who use the spaces and motivates all who work in the building.”

The Baulderstone-built building boasts a sophisticated glass double-skin ventilated façade which is made up of occupant-controlled timber louvres to control solar gain and glare. The cavity space within the façade naturally ventilates the building. Other features include a 20 metre high light tower which is used to direct natural light into the underground law library. Clad in curved stainless steel panels and large glass panes, the building also features mixed-mode, chilled-beam and displacement air conditioning and precinct storm water collection.

The project has received numerous awards including AIA awards for Architecture, Urban Design and Sustainability.
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University of Western Australia Business School, Perth, Australia

Woods Bagot's Business School design reflects the region's economic history
The new University of Western Australia Business School is a world class example of best practice in tertiary educational facility design. It is a fusion of the University’s specific requirements and the latest education pedagogy and workplace design concepts. Woods Bagot undertook a rigorous consultative approach throughout the design process which resulted in opportunities for innovation and added value.

Rigorous education-specific space auditing combined with the consultative process resulted in a 10% saving in space from the original brief. These savings were reinvested in a number of ways, such as; the creation of a new collaborative and collegiate workplace model for academics; new learning environments such as collaborative social spaces and breakout spaces with chilled beam climate control. The building is also orientated so as to optimise natural heating and cooling throughout the year and the form of the building allows for the maximum penetration of natural light. This is combined with an intelligent daylight compensation lighting system.

The UWA Business School site is located at the southern end of the campus, the opposite end to the sandstone Winthrop buildings which define the campus identity. This provides the opportunity to announce a new era in the history of the University and a 21st century model for campus architecture. The architectural expression is derived from images associated with the history of the state’s economy such as agriculture and the resources industry.
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Circa on Jellicoe, Johannesburg, South Africa

Landmark art gallery opens in Johannesburg
Located in Johannesburg, Circa on Jellicoe is a new multimedia art gallery designed by South African practice, studioMAS. The design team developed the elliptical form to cope with the constraints of a narrow site and the prospect of creating a landmark. Its main feature is an aluminium fin facade that allows views into and out of the building.

Circa comprises of three levels with the public ground floor consisting of 106 sq m of craft exhibition space. Beyond this, users traverse a perimeter ramp that connects ground and first floor exhibition spaces. This 177 sq m double volume multi-purpose exhibition space has 7 moveable display screens that can drop through the floor into the ground level below, when unused. The top floor consists of a 105 sq m private lounge and deck overlooking Johannesburg’s urban forest.

The main structure is cast in situ concrete; the cantilevering perimeter ramp and staircase are also concrete. The façade cladding consists of anodized aluminium fins which are attached to the concrete by steel angles and bracing. Dry-walling has been used inside the main gallery to conceal services behind. Glass has been used extensively on the ground floor to close off access into the building after hours and yet maintain views.
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