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Six design firms vying for WAG Inuit art centre

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The Winnipeg Art Gallery has shortlisted six architectural teams from Canada, the United States and Japan for the design of its Inuit Art and Learning Centre, to be erected next door to its current building.

The teams will prepare expanded proposals, make presentations to the selection committee and vie for the contract to design the building.

Any firm that doesn’t have a licence to practise in the province must partner with a Manitoba firm to undertake the project. Three of the six teams have already presented themselves as non-Manitoba/Manitoba partnerships.

The shortlisted teams are Will Bruder Architects (Phoenix) with Peter Sampson Architecture Studio (Winnipeg); Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York); Kengo Kuma & Associates (Japan); Michael Maltzan Architecture (Los Angeles); Patkau Architects (Vancouver) with LM Architectural Group (Winnipeg); and Preston Scott Cohen Inc. (Boston) with Number Ten Architectural Group (Winnipeg).

The WAG’s open call for expressions of interest generated 64 submissions from 15 countries, including China, Korea, Norway, Iceland, Spain, France, Germany and Denmark.

"It exceeded all our expectations," said WAG executive director Stephen Borys, adding, "All of these (finalist) firms have had interesting experiences with cultural organizations… Any of these firms could give us a spectacular design."

For example, Borys said, Will Bruder Architects designed the Nevada Museum of Art. Diller Scofidio + Renfro is credited with Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Michael Maltzan Architecture designed the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Preston Scott Cohen’s project list includes Israel’s Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

The IALC will be built on the site of the WAG’s current studio building (the former Mall Medical Building). Its projected cost, including an endowment, is $45 million. The WAG hopes to break ground in 2014.

The centre will showcase the WAG’s public collection of Inuit art and serve as an international centre for scholarship in the field. It will also house the gallery’s studio and education programs.

The WAG plans to announce the winning firm in late October.

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