Nov 29, 2017



Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Patkau Architects is a Canadian firm with an international reputation for design excellence which has received numerous national and international architectural awards.

The firm's portfolio includes a variety of project types and scales. Within their projects we can find museums, art galleries, private housing projects, libraries, schools, university buildings, and urban planning. Next, the firm gave scuro an exclusive inside scoop on one of their most recent projects, the widely known, awarded and acclaimed The Audain Art Museum


Audain Art Museum

The Audain Art Museum is a 56,000 square foot private museum located in Whistler, British Columbia. It will house Michael Audain’s personal art collection which traces a visual record of British Columbia from the late 18th century to the present day. It includes one of the world’s finest collections of old First Nation masks, a superb collection of Emily Carr paintings, and works by some of Canada’s most significant post-war artists including Jack Shadbolt, E. J. Hughes, and Gordon Smith, as well as works by internationally regarded contemporary artists such as Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Stan Douglas and others.


According to the firm, the design of the museum is shaped by three powerful determinants. The first determinant is the need to house both the permanent exhibition of Michael Audain’s collection and, in juxtaposition with this collection, temporary exhibits of all kinds from across Canada and around the world. The second determinant is the beautiful but challenging site in Whistler which, although blessed by magnificent evergreen forest vegetation, is located within the floodplain of Fitzsimmons Creek. The third determinant is the enormous snowfall typical of Whistler, which averages nearly 15in annual accumulated depth.


Patkau Architects’ design responds to these determinants, simply and directly, by projecting a volume of sequential public spaces and galleries into an existing linear void within the surrounding forest. It is elevated a full story above the ground and crowned with a steeply sloped roof, containing administration and back-of-house support functions.


The building design and siting work synergistically within the context of the site to create a public pedestrian link, beginning from the ‘village stroll’, the pedestrian spine of Whistler Village, across Blackcomb Way, leading to and through the Museum and then across the site to Fitzsimmons Creek park. A bridge from Blackcomb Way rises through the forest to arrive at a sky lit museum entry porch. From there, visitors can either descend to the forest floor and central meadow to continue passage through the site, or enter into the museum lobby and event space. Once inside, visitors proceed along a glazed walkway overlooking the meadow below, to gain access first to the galleries which contain the permanent collection and then to the galleries which contain temporary exhibits.


“The form and character of the building and interiors is deliberately restrained to provide a quiet, minimal backdrop to the art within and the surrounding natural landscape. The simple form of the exterior is clad in an envelope of dark metal which recedes into the shadows of the surrounding forest. Where this envelope is opened, to provide access in the entry porch or view from the glazed walkway to the galleries, the dark metal is overlaid by a luminous wood casing. Public spaces in the interior, which are visible from the exterior, continue this warm luminous materiality. Gallery interiors in both the permanent and temporary exhibition areas are closed white volumes with minimal detail”. -Says the firm



Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Date 2012 - 2016

Client Audain Art Museum

Size 56,000 sq ft

Timeline Site Selection - September 2012 Design Start - November 2012

Construction Start - August 2013

Public Opening - March 2016



Architect Patkau Architects Inc.

Project team John Patkau, Patricia Patkau, David Shone, Michael Thorpe,

Mike Green, Marc Holland, Cam Koroluk, Dimitri Koubatis, Tom Schroeder, Luke Stern, Peter Suter, David Zeibin


Structural Equilibrium Consulting

Mechanical/ Electrical Integral Group

Lighting HLB Lighting Design

Civil Creus Engineering

Landscape PFS Studio / Tom Barratt


Building Envelope Spratt Emanuel Engineering

Floodproofing Kerr Wood Leidal

Geotechnical Geopacific Consultants

Snow Management Mountain Resort Engineering

Signage Gallop Varley

Museum Consultant Lord Cultural Resources

Exhibition Design Bricault Design

Construction Manager Axiom Builders

Images James Dow / Patkau Architects