The design of the Remai Modern responds to community, context, resources and program. It focuses equally on the gallery spaces and the spaces between the program to offer Saskatoon and its citizens a comfortable, engaging public realm through all seasons, and particularly during the extreme cold winter months.
The form and massing respond to the low, flat topography of Saskatchewan’s prairie landscape and evoke regional agrarian traditions of low-rise, rectilinear sheds and barns. Four cantilevered horizontal volumes engage the River edge to the south and 2nd Avenue to the east. The south elevation spans the length of the site and the ground floor is fully glazed to provide continuous day-lit public spaces with access to the River. Entrances at each end integrate the gallery into the new pedestrian flows along the river bank.
Public spaces on every level are organized to maximize the connection to the river. A central atrium organizes the plan and offers a community gathering space. A generously-scaled connecting stair on the ground floor is located to initiate a continuous path through all levels.
The exterior is clad in a copper-coloured metal screen and was was inspired by Saskatoon’s historic architectural landmark, the Bessborough Hotel (CNR, 1932).
The architecture of the Remai Modern simultaneously looks back and forward. It forges a strong relationship to the legacy of the Mendel and creates a platform to reinforce the role of art for the “advancement of Saskatoon as a creative city dedicated to life long learning.”