A digital rendering shows what the NEXT Gallery could look like. (File contributed/ HMCA Architecture and Design)

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria sees delays in expansion

Rising construction costs prompt AGGV to look at different design and funding options

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) has had to delay the construction of its expansion due to rising construction costs and funding delays.

The NEXT Gallery, originally approved by Victoria City Council in 2015, would include an additional 11,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, an increase in lecture space from 80 seats to 175 seats and the installation of a cafe.

Originally a budget had been set at $21 million, something that the AGGV planned to divide equally between private donations and provincial and federal funding.

However, rising construction and materials costs have driven prices closer to $26 million. So far the province has put forward $6 million, donors have put forward $8 million.

ALSO READ: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria expansion gets $6M boost from province

“The timing hasn’t been great,” said Jon Tupper, director of the AGGV. At it’s worst, the AGGV was seeing construction costs rise by 1.2 per cent per month.

“Then there’s things like the steel tariffs introduced in 2018, and we’ve used a considerable amount of steel in the project.”

While the tariffs were lifted, the AGGV still went back to the drawing board to try to pare down costs where it could.

“If you’re looking at economizing, you have time to reflect on other things that would have been hard to maintain anyway,” Tupper said.

This meant switching a lot of steel to brushed aluminum, and redesigning portions of the gallery expansion to no longer have windows– something which would have cost the AGGV more in maintenance costs due to UV light and heat management.

ALSO READ: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria receives $2.8M Anthony Thorn donation

While the AGGV finalizes its revisions and puts out a call for tender, it has continued to fundraise and also applied to the federal government for $10 million in funding, something Tupper doesn’t expect to hear back about until after the federal election.

“They won’t be spending any money after the writ is dropped,” he said.

Originally, construction was set to begin in the fall of 2019. If everything goes well with funding and hiring, Tupper said construction could begin in March 2020, with an anticipated completion date of 2022.

During this time the AGGV would be closed, but art displays would still happen at off-site locations across the Capital Region.

“Things take time,” Tupper said. “And great things take more time.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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