From afar, it could be mistaken for a classical building. Yet KPMB’s showpiece expansion of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the culmination of three phases, was completed less than a year ago. Its historic references are intentional. Located across the street from the ornate Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, in Fredericton, the addition — known as the Harrison McCain Pavilion — offers a contemporary counterpoint that reinterprets the porticos of its heritage context through material and form.
The pavilion’s elegant precast concrete and glass facade — including its impressive colonnade — gently curves to mirror its Queen Street site and the adjacent Saint John River. The river’s influence was twofold: Due to dramatic springtime flooding, the ground floor is elevated well above the floodplain, also strengthening its relationship to the legislative building. A sweeping staircase along the street-facing facade serves as a “front porch” where passersby can gather — or peek inside through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The pillars’ rhythmic repetition creates an exquisite interplay of light and shadow, transforming the space with the seasons and time of day. The exterior’s minimal palette of white and grey is translated indoors, where Venetian plaster, acoustical painted wood-slat ceilings and polished concrete floors impart subtle textural variation.
Conceived as a kind of living room for the gallery, as well as a point of entry and multi-functional lobby, the 836-square-metre pavilion has been outfitted with a fireplace at its east end to imbue the spartan space with warmth. Suitable for more than just socializing and independent work, this area will also host artworks on a rotating basis (so far, sculptures by Maritime artist Cal Lane and a black limestone piece by Indigenous artist Ned Bear have held the coveted spot). The hope is that this small but powerful public venue will attract those less familiar with the arts, cultivating a more accessible cultural hub. It’s all part of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s core ethos: to foster connection between art and community.
Team: Shirley Blumberg with Matthew Wilson, Francesco Valente-Gorjup, Jinsu Park, Jonathan Santaguida, Lukas Bergmark, Ramin Yamin and Gerald DesRochers
KPMB’s modern-classic building is a living room for the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton – and a perfect complement to the original.