Design concept for new Vernon cultural centre revealed

Cultural centre revealed

Vernon's forthcoming cultural centre will be a multipurpose facility with space the community can use.

The wraps were pulled off design concepts Friday afternoon, and Vernon Museum executive director Steve Jenkins said his "excitement is off the charts."

A video walk-through and design panels were on display for visitors at the current museum in the Civic Plaza.

They revealed an open, glass-enclosed design with an outdoor space for community events, flexible indoor spaces, and defined areas for the museum, Vernon Public Art Gallery, a small theatre, and open amphitheatre.

"the intention is on functionality, with wide open spaces and a lot of light," said Jenkins.

There will also be a central open atrium where visitors can relax, have a coffee or lunch, said Jenkins.

The 150-seat theatre will have a flat floor and retractable seating, making it flexible for a number of uses.

"Small, intimate concerts and performances, book readings," says Jenkins.

There will be open community events space and a large, wide staircase that doubles as an indoor amphitheatre for speaking engagements and other events.

There will also be a gift shop and dedicated classrooms for both the museum and art gallery.

The museum's archives will stay at the current site.

Jenkins said the design of the new, four-storey building "best represents museum stories that need to be told."

There will be space for permanent displays, temporary showcases, and a mobile component where exhibits can be shown throughout the centre. In addition, he said, the museum will extend beyond its walls into local schools to bring history to a broader audience.

Tannis Nelson, manager of cultural and community services with the Regional District of North Okanagan (which will own the facility), said the "ambitious timeline" of a $13.9-million fundraising campaign and total project cost of $41.9 million includes provisions for cost escalation and contingencies.

It aims to have a detailed design by 2024-25, construction beginning in 2025 and completion in 2027.

"Every month beyond the July 2024 fundraising campaign adds $167,000 to the projected cost, she said.

"It has to happen quickly for the best chance of success," Nelson added.

Senior government grants will be sought, which could potentially include "multi-year asks" and some funding could come in phases after construction.

Having a Class C cost estimate gives a greater level of cost certainty, said Nelson.

Revery Architecture designed the concepts.

The facility will be built on the site of the downtown Vernon parking lot on 31st Avenue.

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