Audain Art Museum

The Audain Art Museum by Patkau Architects in Whistler, Canada, is clad in an envelope of dark metal, overlaid and contrasted by a luminous wood casing.

Patkau Architects, Audain Art Museum, Whistler, Canada, 2016
The Audain Art Museum is a 5,200 sqm museum located in Whistler, British Columbia. 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. 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 five meters 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 storey 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. 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.

Img.14 Patkau Architects, Audain Art Museum, Whistler, Canada, 2016
Img.14 Patkau Architects, Audain Art Museum, Whistler, Canada, 2016
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.
Img.15 Patkau Architects, Audain Art Museum, Whistler, Canada, 2016
Img.15 Patkau Architects, Audain Art Museum, Whistler, Canada, 2016

Audain Art Museum, Whistler, Canada
Program: museum
Architect: Patkau Architects
Design 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 engineering: Equilibrium Consulting
Installations: Integral Group
Lighting: HLB Lighting Design
Landscape: PFS Studio / Tom Barratt
Construction manager: Axiom Builders
Area: 5,200 sqm
Completion: 2016

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