Canada’s largest, independent non-profit photography gallery, the Polygon Gallery, sits at the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver’s old ship-building district, perched on the waterfront overlooking Vancouver’s busy industrial harbour.

Project Essentials

  • LocationNorth Vancouver, BC
  • ClientBritish Columbia Photography and Media Arts Society
  • ArchitectPatkau Architects
  • Size22,600 ft² (2,100 m²)
  • BudgetCAD $18 million

Due to the complex foundations, including a previously constructed pathway structure partially under the building and poor soils on the site, a light building was an important part of making this project efficient.  Due to the long spans and heavy gallery loading, steel construction was used to allow the large cantilevered floor area over the entry plaza.  The goal was to keep an industrial appearance in fitting with the history of ship-building in the area. The saw tooth roof profile allows indirect light into the gallery space. The exposed roof beams also support an extensive lighting and power grid to allow for flexibility with exhibits.

The large floor cantilever is supported by deep wide flange beams and by a custom truss to minimize the floor depth.  Lateral loads are resisted by a combination of concrete walls for the elevator shafts and steel brace bays.  The large spans used required a vibration analysis of the floor to ensure the behaviour was adequate for its use as a public space.

With a mandate to disseminate and exhibit photography and media art, with an emphasis on Canadian work, the Polygon Gallery at Lonsdale Quay, along with neighbouring restaurants and a bustling social scene, have significantly contributed to the revitalization of North Vancouver’s busiest waterfront location.

Images courtesy James Dow + Patkau Architects