Behind the Scenes of the Construction of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery
The new Harrison McCain Pavilion radically changes the shape of Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery on Queen Street.
Scheduled for completion in spring 2022, the contemporary-styled addition includes tall concrete pillars and large windows. From the sidewalk, the new entrance covers 9,000 square feet, reaching the old facade of the building.
“He recognizes the street, a portal to the city. What we wanted to do is take the street sweeping into account as you drive, ”said Tom Smart, director of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
The renovations aim to make the gallery more open, both symbolically and physically. In addition to the pavilion, several ramps will be installed throughout the building.
Conceptual photos show the facade of the structure. A wide staircase will lead from the street to the new entrance and a ramp will run alongside it.
“You can sit on the stairs and have lunch like you would, say at the Metropolitan Museum. It’s kind of a community gathering place here, ”said Smart. “And everyone goes through the same front door.”
The concrete pillars that border the exterior are sloped, which constitutes a “dynamic facade” according to Smart. He said the design was inspired by local architecture, reflecting the ancient porticoes and the culture of downtown patios.
“There is a conversation going on in the neighborhood… a contemporary expression of the city’s architectural vocabularies,” he said.
The new ramp replacing the entrance to the exterior staircase will lead to a mural at the entrance to the gallery. The piece will be created by Mi’kmaw artist Jordan Bennett, representing the people who have lived along the river throughout its history.
“This is indeed our recognition of the land… when you come here, literally walk through a work of art to enter the galleries,” said Smart.
The windows between the pillars of the pavilion will give a bird’s eye view of the space, acting as a photo frame containing a mural.
A fireplace and cafe will stand at one end of the pavilion, while an information and admissions desk will be seated at the other. Crafts will be on sale in the new space, allowing artisans to offer their wares.
Anyone can enter the pavilion, purchasing a ticket to enter the galleries if they wish. Smart said the large open space would also be used for conventions and community gatherings, as parts of it may be closed for more privacy.
“People can sit in front of the fireplace. There will be a door that will lead you to the green space here next to the cafe where you can sit and have your coffee or your coconut cream pie, ”he said.
Smart is convinced that the space will increase the traffic in the gallery. In addition to refreshments and gifts, the pavilion area will advertise preview programs and presentations.
Staff take advantage of the gallery’s closure to digitize the Beaverbrook collection. They are revamping their website, offering viewers a chance to explore their collection of over 7,000 pieces online.
“There is a powerful engine that will allow us to communicate our programs [with viewers] better, to make our programs more accessible, outside and inside.
The community’s reactions so far have been positive.
“There is a kind of cultural forum forming here that we are happy to be a part of and to support other cultural institutions,” he said.
Smart said the new design is one of the most beautiful structures built in Atlantic Canada.
“It’s a very elegant building, very imaginative. It is a work of art in itself. “