In December, Toronto-headquartered KPMB completed its latest cultural project, the Harrison McCain Pavilion at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Wrapped in a distinctive fanned facade, the long and low-slung 9,000-square-foot structure was designed as a welcoming civic space-slash-entry lobby for the 64-year-old museum and houses a café, membership and visitor services, gift shop, and additional exhibition space. The project marks the third and final phase of an comprehensive campus refresh at the Beaverbrook, with the Harrison McCain Pavilion joining a handful of other major new additions including a three-story gallery pavilion completed in 2016 with a design by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects.
The Harrison McCain Pavilion’s pre-cast concrete and glass facade gently curves away from busy Queen Street, allowing the sweeping exterior stairs to function as what the architects refer to as an inviting “front porch” for public gatherings. Inside, a fireplace situated on the east end of the building provides another natural space for public congregation. The pavilion’s classical colonnade references the ubiquitous porticos and porches found throughout the surrounding historic district in downtown Fredericton. (Sitting on the banks of the St. John River, the Beaverbrook campus is located directly across Queen Street from the historic New Brunswick Legislative Building.)
“The rhythm of the facade columns is a contemporary reference to Fredericton’s significant built heritage,” KPMB founding partner Shirley Blumberg told RECORD. “A civic room expressed as a welcoming loggia, the new pavilion is already fulfilling its promise to become a vibrant social and cultural hub in the city.”
The pavillion's interior features a café (1) and a fireplace at its east end (2). Photos © Julian Parkinson (1), Doublespace (2)
Visitors will now enter through the new entry pavilion to access the main gallery building, a local Midcentury Modern landmark by Howell & Stewart that’s undergone two major expansions since the museum’s founding in 1959. Due to the seasonal spring flooding of the St. John River, which flows behind the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, KPMB elevated the building’s ground level above the floodplain.
The museum’s permanent collection, which began with a donation of 300 paintings by Lord Beaverbrook, initially focused on British and Canadian painting but has grown to encompass over 6,000 works of art, including large-scale outdoor sculptures that populate an adjacent sculpture garden, Indigenous and Acadian art, multiple paintings by Salvador Dalí, and the Grandfather Akwiten Wolastoqiyik canoe, which dates back to the 1820s and is considered the oldest complete birchbark canoe in the world.
Referring to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery project as an “important opportunity to provide a greater sense of inclusivity and accessibility into a Fredericton landmark,” Blumberg added: “We hope the new addition will become a catalyst for even more meaningful engagement with the community.”
Stateside, KPMB also recently completed a dramatically cantilevered tower for Boston University’s Center for Computing & Data Sciences. The $305 million, 19-story structure is being billed as the city’s largest 100-percent fossil-fuel free building.