A digital rendering shows what the NEXT Gallery could look like. (File contributed/ HMCA Architecture and Design)

A digital rendering shows what the NEXT Gallery could look like. (File contributed/ HMCA Architecture and Design)

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria sees delays in expansion

Rising construction costs prompt AGGV to look at different design, funding options for NEXT project

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) has had to delay the construction of its expansion on Moss Street due to rising construction costs and funding delays.

The NEXT Gallery project, approved by Victoria city council in 2015, would include an additional 11,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, an increase in lecture space from 80 seats to 175 seats and the installation of a cafe.

The project budget was set at $21 million, which the gallery planned to divide equally between private donations and provincial and federal funding. However, rising construction and materials costs have driven prices closer to $26 million. So far the province has put forward $6 million and donors have committed $8 million.

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“The timing hasn’t been great,” said Jon Tupper, gallery director. At its worst, he said, construction costs were rising by 1.2 per cent per month. “Then there’s things like the steel tariffs introduced in 2018, and we’ve used a considerable amount of steel in the project.”

While the tariffs have been lifted, the gallery went back to the drawing board to try to pare down costs where it could.

“If you’re looking at economizing, you have time to reflect on other things that would have been hard to maintain anyway,” Tupper said.

This meant switching a lot of steel to brushed aluminum, and redesigning portions of the expansion to remove windows – which would have cost the AGGV more in maintenance costs due to UV light and heat management.

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While the AGGV finalizes its revisions and puts out a call for tender, it has continued to fundraise and also applied to the federal government for $10 million in funding, something Tupper doesn’t expect to hear back about until after the federal election.

“They won’t be spending any money after the writ is dropped,” he said.

Construction was set to begin in the fall of 2019. If everything goes well with funding and hiring, Tupper said the work could begin in March 2020, with an anticipated completion date of 2022.

During this time the gallery would be closed, with art exhibitions happening at off-site locations across the Capital Region.

“Things take time,” Tupper said. “And great things take more time.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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