Rooms with a View

The Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver, BC

By Robin Laurence
For some 36 years, North Vancouver’s Presentation House Gallery produced a stellar exhibition program out of a difficult facility: an old wooden school house, which it shared with a small theatre and a museum. Despite the cramped conditions, lack of amenities, and out-of-the-way location, the place generated great respect as the most important gallery of photographic and media-based art in Western Canada. Now, after nearly three decades of discussions about relocating, along with feasibility studies, searching, planning, and, more recently, fundraising, the institution has achieved a home equal to its accomplishments – and its aspirations.
The renamed Polygon Gallery, scheduled to open to the public on November 18, occupies a dazzling new 25,000 square foot building on a waterfront site next to Lonsdale Quay. Designed by Patkau Architects, it commands views of Burrard Inlet and the Vancouver harbour and skyline. Its second storey, clad in polished steel and aluminum grating, is cantilevered over the glazed ground floor. Exterior architectural features reference both the North Shore Mountains and the historic working waterfront.
Inside the east-facing entrance doors, the expansive lobby and light-filled ground floor are designed to accommodate a changing program of events and public art. Revenue-generating commercial spaces include a gift shop and the possibility of a café and restaurant. Most importantly for art lovers, the second floor houses four versatile exhibition spaces, each named after a major donor, as well as preparation facilities, administrative offices, and – great news for all those who cherished quiet times in a book-filled nook of the old gallery – an inviting bookstore specializing in photographic publications.

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