Audain Art Museum designed by Patkau Architects has won a 2018 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture. Located in Whistler, B.C., the museum was one of only eight projects to win in the architecture category and the only Canadian winner.
The Audain Art Museum is a private museum built to house and exhibit Michael Audain’s personal art collection, including British Columbia art from the late 18th century to the present. The design navigates three main determinants by connecting local culture with the permanent collection and traveling exhibits of all kinds, by spanning the revegetated floodplain of Fitzsimons Creek, and by strategically shedding the enormous snowfall typical of Whistler. The building’s minimal interiors recede behind the art and its calm exterior foregrounds the natural landscape.
The project was complicated by the beautiful but challenging site — a former municipal works yard endowed with a significant coniferous canopy and in need of environmental reclamation — as well as Whistler’s winter precipitation that brings more than 15 feet of snowfall annually.
The museum responds to these challenges by projecting a volume of public spaces and galleries into a natural void in the forest. The building’s form and its siting work together with the trees to exaggerate the embrace of the reclaimed meadow. Elevated one full story, a bridge at street level draws visitors in and through the trees, ending at a protected sky-lit porch with views onto the meadow. From there, visitors can enter to explore the collection or descend to the forest floor, where they can access a footpath leading to the town’s other cultural institutions and parks.
The first museum in Canada solely dedicated to the art of a single province, the Audain Art Museum fits seamlessly into the cultural and ecological fabric of Whistler.
The AIA Awards are the profession’s highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design. Selected from roughly 500 submissions, recipients located throughout the world will be honoured at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 in New York City.