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Vancouver philanthropist Michael Audain plans to build a museum in Whistler, B.C., to house his impressive art collection. (JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Vancouver philanthropist Michael Audain plans to build a museum in Whistler, B.C., to house his impressive art collection. (JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Philanthropist Michael Audain's Whistler art museum gets its architects Add to ...

Philanthropist, developer and art collector Michael Audain’s plans to build an art museum in Whistler, B.C., are progressing, with the selection of Vancouver-based Patkau Architects for the project.

“We ended up choosing the Patkaus based on their very extensive knowledge of art galleries, public art museums and also, of course, their track record is illustrious,” said Mr. Audain, who interviewed eight architects for the project – all from British Columbia.

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“We’ve been to the site on several occasions already,” said firm principal John Patkau. “It’s a very interesting site because it’s sort of between the Village and Fitzsimmons Creek, which is a very natural zone that runs right through Whistler. So it offers us some very interesting opportunities to have a building which is simultaneously part of the Village and simultaneously part of the forest.”

While Mr. Patkau said they have no “architectural ideas” yet, that “dual identity” will play an important role in the project’s design.

“We view this as a sort of a three-part project, the first part being the collection,” Mr. Patkau said. “The second part is the architecture, but we view the landscape as being an equally important third part.”

The award-winning firm’s projects include the Beaty Biodiversity Centre at the University of British Columbia, Montreal’s central library and Winnipeg’s Skating Shelters. The firm, whose principals are John and Patricia Patkau, is currently at work on a Visitors’ Centre at Toronto’s Fort York National Historic Site and the Taché Arts Project at the University of Manitoba.

“I don’t have any preconceived idea what they’re going to do,” said Mr. Audain, 75. “It’s still early days, of course.”

It was less than two months ago that Mr. Audain first saw the site in Whistler where he now plans to build a museum to house his impressive art collection. He says he expects to have a memorandum of understanding with the Resort Municipality of Whistler executed on Dec. 18. “We’ve been doing a lot of consultant work and background and due diligence,” said Mr. Audain, who is chairman of Polygon Homes.

His plan is to have shovels in the ground next year, and he would like to see the project completed by the end of 2014. “Things have to move along,” Mr. Audain said.

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