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‘World renowned’ architecture firm signs on to Vernon cultural centre project

Click to play video: '‘World renowned’ architecture firm signs on to Vernon project'
‘World renowned’ architecture firm signs on to Vernon project
A big-name Vancouver architecture firm has signed on to work on the design of the planned Greater Vernon Cultural Centre. Revery Architecture hopes to transform the site, a downtown parking lot, into a community meeting place at the heart of the city. Picking a design company is a big step forward for the long-planned project that had previously stalled. – Dec 8, 2022

A big-name Vancouver architecture firm has signed on to work on the design of the planned Greater Vernon Cultural Centre.

Revery Architecture hopes to transform the site, a downtown Vernon, B.C. parking lot, into a community meeting place at the city’s heart.

Picking a design company is a big step forward for the long-planned project that had previously stalled.

“Revery Architecture is an amazing architectural firm that we are very excited [to have] them here because they are world-renowned,” said Amanda Shatzko, vice-chair of the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) board.
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Revery’s previous work includes major projects like the University of Chicago campus in Hong Kong and the City Centre Library in Surrey.

The regional district vice chair says she was pleasantly surprised the company submitted a proposal for the Vernon project.

“We are very excited because the caliber of this firm is known to be creating artistic projects around the world and we feel that in the North Okanagan we are worthy of an award-winning project as well,” Shatzko said.

The planned site in downtown Vernon is currently a parking lot but the architecture firm sees a lot of potential in the city center location.

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“For us, it is important that this is the heart of Vernon and there is potential for us in the future to create something that will bring joy to the community and will bring everyone there,” said Venelin Kokalov, the firm’s design principal.

The cultural centre is slated to be the new home for the city’s art gallery and museum, and Kokalov hopes to also transform the site into a space people will want to visit even if they don’t have a specific reason to go there.

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“We will try to create something that will be a meeting point for people. We try to build community,” said Kokalov.

An early conceptual design for the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre. The Regional District of North Okanagan released this conceptual sketch prior Revery Architecture coming on to the project. Regional District of North Okanagan

From a financial perspective, the RDNO said the fees for Revery Architecture’s bid for the project were neither the highest nor lowest, “but Revery Architecture was ranked highest when evaluated based on relevant experience, qualifications, work plan, references, and budget.”

Selecting an architecture firm is a big step forward for the project which has been in the works for years, but has experienced challenges.

In 2018, voters originally approved borrowing millions for the building in a referendum.

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But the plan hit several snags including failing to secure grant funding.

Then officials scaled down the building and earlier this year received permission through an alternate approval process to borrow slightly more for the project: $28 million, three million more than the $25-million voters approved in the 2018 borrowing referendum.

Now the RDNO is anticipating a functional design will be finished in 2023 and, if everything goes as planned, construction will start in 2025.

Click to play video: 'Larger loan proposed for Vernon Cultural Centre project'
Larger loan proposed for Vernon Cultural Centre project

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