KPMB Wins AGNS Competition

John Hill
18. november 2020
All images courtesy of AGNS

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) has announced that the team led by KPMB Architects has won the international design competition for the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Waterfront Arts District.

The winning team is comprised of KPMB Architects with Omar Gandhi Architect, Jordan Bennett Studio, Elder Lorraine Whitman (NWAC), Public Work, and Transsolar. They bested two other teams in the two-stage competition: Architecture49 with Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Hargreaves Jones; and DIALOG, Acre Architects, Brackish Design Studio, and Shannon Webb-Campbell. 

Birds-eye view of the entire Salter Block site

The seven-member jury* met over a two-day period and unanimously selected the winning team, as announced today by AGNS: "It is the DNA of the proposed design, its sensitivity to people, public space, and its incredible ambition to deliver on the brief's many aspirations and criteria for the Project, which lead to a unanimous recommendation by this jury."

Exterior view of the outdoor public space

The New Art Gallery of Nova Scotia would be located on the Salter Block of the Halifax Waterfront, just a few blocks south of AGNS's current home. The museum would be a key component in the Waterfront Arts District. In turn, the winning design has a substantial public space component, with a park, boardwalk, gathering spaces, and an accessible shoreline.

Interior feature stair and reception

In a statement, KPMB founding partner Bruce Kuwabara said of the design inspired by Mi’kmaw culture: "We proposed a sinuous building surrounded by regenerative gardens that will signal a radical new beginning for the AGNS, the waterfront, Nova Scotians, and the world of art. We want people to experience art in a great setting. We want people to feel welcome and at home. We believe we have created a place for everyone."

View of a key exhibition space

Today's announcement of the winning team was accompanied by news of a $10 million gift from The Sobey Foundation. These funds are on top of $70 million committed toward the project by the Province of Nova Scotia and $30 million coming from the New Building Canada Fund-Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component, National and Regional Projects. Starting early next year, the design team will work with AGNS, the province, and the public to "shape a final design that is a meaningful and accurate reflection of the diversity of Nova Scotian communities," per today's announcement.

The Oculus, an open-air circular gathering place
*The members of the jury:

  • Claire Weisz (Jury Chair), Architect, Founding Partner/Principal in Charge, WXY Architecture + Urban Design, New York City, USA
  • Claude Cormier, Landscape Architect, Principal Associate, Claude Cormier + Associés, Montreal
  • Sylvia D. Hamilton, Artist, Filmmaker, Writer, Inglis Professor, University of King's College, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Gregory Henriquez, Architect, Managing Principal, Henriquez Architects, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Francine Houben, Architect, Founding Partner/Creative Director, Mecanoo, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Ursula Johnson, Ursula Johnson, Interdisciplinary Artist, South Brookfield, Nova Scotia (originally from Eskasoni First Nation in Cape Breton)
  • Nancy Noble, CEO and Director of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia

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