The Art Gallery of Saskatchewan is conceived as the civic heart of River Landing. Since the Mendel Gallery opened its doors in 1964, the city has nearly doubled in size, diversified its economy, embraced a global perspective, and become known as the “Gateway to the New North”. The new AGS builds on the Mendel’s legacy to serve the city and its environs. The design responds to community, context, resources and program. It focuses equally on the gallery spaces and the spaces between the program to offer Saskatoon and its citizens comfortable, engaging public realm through all seasons, and particularly during the extreme cold winter months.
The massing strategy responds to the L-shaped site located between 1st and 2nd Avenues. It faces south to the River, and east to one of a series of roundabouts that connect the City to the river bank. The form responds to the low, flat topography of Saskatchewan’s prairie landscape and evokes agrarian traditions of building indigenous low-rising, rectilinear sheds and barns.
Four cantilevered horizontal volumes engage the River edge to the south and 2nd Avenue to the east. The south elevation spans the length of the site and the ground floor is fully glazed to provide continuous day-lit public spaces with access to the River. Entrances at each end integrate the gallery into the new pedestrian flows along the river bank. Every public space on every level is organized to face the River. A central atrium organizes the plan. The atrium supports a daily range of amenities and special events. The ground floor features a generous connecting stair which initiates a continuous path – an interior, vertically connected Community Street - through all levels.
Photos by Tom Arban