The Art Gallery of St. Albert lay at a prominent crossroads of St. Anne and Perron Street in the center of the city. The original structure, built in 1920, was the first bank of St. Albert, and has most recently evolved into the town’s public art gallery – featuring the work of local Canadian artists as well as hosting community workshops and events. As the design team examined the buildings unique history it seemed fitting that the building that once held the town’s valuable assets and exchanged them across Canada has now become its art gallery – with its new focus on art and generating social capital. As the mandate of the art gallery becomes more community focused, public accessibility is at the fore front of the city’s desire to take the building into its next form. While being respectful of the buildings original Edwardian Style, the new additions must act to make it easier for the public to flow into the main level gallery that was historically 1 metre above the sidewalk. While this grade difference helped to exude a sense of stability and security for the bank its new use requires it be universally accessible to the public.
Reception and ancillary functions are moved to the lower level, and the upper level of the bank becomes an open office/studio area. This allows the new second floor gallery to host more ambitious exhibitions, while creating a street presence symbolic of a cultural hub.
The historic bank and its 1966 addition are listed as being of historical importance. Our addition is the logical next step in the evolution of this building in its historic context. The entire project is being developed for a budget of $1.5 million. The design achieves a desirable urban impact as a cultural destination while meeting the conservative budget.