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A couple walks into the Vancouver Art Gallery, December 13, 2012.DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Five architectural firms have been shortlisted to design a new home for the Vancouver Art Gallery. The finalists are: KPMB Architects; Herzog & de Meuron; SANAA; Diller Scofidio + Renfro; and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

KPMB, based in Toronto, is the only Canadian finalist; there are no British Columbia-based firms on the short list. The five firms were chosen from a pool of 75 applicants, and evaluated based on their ability to "create an architecturally significant visual art museum that places prominence on artists and art and that celebrates the rich cultural context of Vancouver," according to a VAG news release out Thursday. Each submission was also assessed by a technical review panel.

In-person interviews will be conducted with the finalists, with a decision expected this spring.

"The announcement of our short list marks an exciting milestone in the realization of our new home in downtown Vancouver," said VAG director Kathleen Bartels in a statement. Ms. Bartels has made the case repeatedly that the gallery has outgrown its current home, a former provincial courthouse.

Last April, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to lease a parcel of city-owned land to the VAG, but a key condition was that the gallery must raise $150-million from the provincial and federal governments by the end of April, 2015. Should the VAG be successful, the new building is slated for a spring 2020 opening.

Here is a look at the five short-listed firms:

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Based in New York, this interdisciplinary design studio led by partners Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro integrates architecture, visual arts and the performing arts. Projects include: a renovation of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, including the redesign and expansion of the Juilliard School; New York's elevated urban park the High Line; and the Broad Art Museum, scheduled to open this year in Los Angeles. Ms. Diller and Mr. Scofidio were the first architects to receive the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, known as the "genius grant."

Herzog & de Meuron

Based in Basel, Switzerland, this firm has been awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, among other honours, for its work. Projects include the Beijing National Stadium – also known as the Bird's Nest; the Tate Modern in London; the Schaulager in Basel; and the recently opened Perez Art Museum in Miami. The firm is led by five senior partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Christine Binswanger, Ascan Mergenthaler and Stefan Marbach.

KPMB Architects

One of Canada's leading architectural firms with 12 Governor-General's medals, the Toronto-based firm has contributed significantly to the cultural landscape of that city, with the National Ballet School, the Gardiner Museum, the Royal Conservatory TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, the TIFF Bell Lightbox, and the Power Plant. It is also building the Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. B.C. projects include Richmond City Hall, and, in progress, UBC's Alumni Centre and the Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Partners are Bruce Kuwabara, Shirley Blumberg and Marianne McKenna.


Based in Tokyo, this Golden Lion- and Pritzker Prize-winning firm was founded by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. Projects include the Louvre-Lens Museum in northern France, the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, the New Museum in New York, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan.

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

Mr. Williams and Ms. Tsien, along with Paul Schulhof, are partners in an award-winning firm based in New York. Projects include the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Asia Society in Hong Kong and the new U.S. Embassy Compound in Mexico City.