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International design competition underway for new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Grant Cameron
International design competition underway for new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
ART GALLERY OF NOVA SCOTIA — Pictured here is the planned arts district and waterfront location for the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, N.S. An international design competition is being held for $100-million new provincial art gallery.

Architects from around the world are being invited to participate in an international design competition for a new, $100-million provincial art gallery in Nova Scotia.

The gallery is being moved about two blocks from its present location on Hollis Street to the waterfront in Halifax and will be a centre point for an arts district.

“This project is part of Nova Scotia’s vision for strengthening its culture sector by helping position Nova Scotia as a world leader in the visual arts, enhancing tourism, and creating a new public space to celebrate and showcase art and culture,” says Nancy Noble, director and CEO of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

“Going the route of a design competition provides more information regarding the design capabilities of the short-listed firms and better demonstrates their understanding of the project requirements. A design competition also stands to bring new and unique perspectives to the design and will garner local, national, and international attention to what will become a new sense of pride for Nova Scotia.”

Noble says the gallery is seeking an exceptional team of architects and designers to realize the ambitions of the art gallery and the dream of creating an inclusive world-class centre for art.

A design competition is the best way to capture a global perspective on how a gallery can best serve a community, explains Noble, while also ensuring the architecture helps the art gallery achieve its vision of being an inclusive public gathering place that connects all people with art.

“The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia believes in being welcoming, contemporary, challenging, and ambitious and we are looking for a team that can bring these beliefs to life.”

The competition, which is the first of its magnitude for the province, is expected to last six months and will take place in two stages. The competition will be open to local, national and international teams and architects.

Stage one is a call for qualifications and interviews with the top qualified candidates. Stage two is the formal design competition where shortlisted firms will create conceptual designs for the art gallery and surrounding space. Architects who are shortlisted will have six months to submit their designs.

The conceptual designs of all finalists will be on public display for feedback which will be provided to the winning design team. The final design team will be chosen by a qualified jury of professionals, including architects and museum professionals.

The winning team will assist the province by leading the continued engagement process once a contract is awarded. There will be intensive period for broad engagement of the public and key interest groups at the start of the consultant’s work.

The province has stated that it wants to develop an iconic art gallery and public space to promote art, culture, world-class exhibitions, events and programming for all Nova Scotians and visitors to the province.

“We are embarking on an exciting phase of the project to build Nova Scotia’s new waterfront art gallery and public space,” Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine said in a statement. “Our commitment speaks to the important contributions the arts make to our communities and to our economy.”

Trevor Murphy, chair of the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, says maintaining a vibrant arts scene is integral to the vitality of the province and to the wellbeing of those who live there.

“The new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and arts district will enliven creativity throughout the cultural sector, encourage economic growth and offer the opportunity to Nova Scotians and its visitors to experience a rich, ever-expanding tapestry of storytelling, talent and meaning.”

Jennifer Angel, CEO of Develop Nova Scotia, a provincial crown corporation that works with communities and partners to build on the assets of the province, says the gallery will be part of an arts district that will be a welcoming place for people from all communities to access art and experience cultural activities on their waterfront.

“Art and culture are important contributors to quality of life — both to the social fabric of a community and to our economy,” she notes. “We want to create a place that is truly inclusive, where art is accessible to everyone.”

In terms of economic impact, Angel says the new destination will contribute to the magnetism of Halifax and Nova Scotia as a place to visit and to live, as well as support the cultural sector which employs almost 14,000 Nova Scotians, and in 2017 contributed $929 million to the provincial economy.

“The arts district is more than just a relocation of an art gallery on the Halifax waterfront. It’s a project that’s about creating a place, including a substantial public space with year-round activity and opportunities for art-related business and programming, where everyone can access art.

“It also makes a statement about the value Nova Scotia places on art and culture with this location on the Halifax waterfront, our most visited destination.”

Angel says the arts district and gallery will be a place where all Nova Scotians feel they can belong.

“Although the arts district will be the physical hub, it will connect to art and cultural experiences around the province, providing opportunities for all Nova Scotians to experience and engage with the arts and with each other, no matter where they live.”

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