Johnston Marklee takes on Kitchener Contemporary’s first museum

From organizing pop-up demonstrations to the massive “Festival for the People” that just took place on Cherry Street Pier, Kitchener Contemporary has been an integral part of the city for years – albeit without a home.

Now the non-profit art group is finally getting a permanent place and they have won Los Angeles-based architecture firm Johnston Marklee for the design.

It’s still unclear where the new space will be, but Kitchener Contemporary says the final design for the building should be ready in 2019 and that it will be a visual and performance art space exclusively for contemporary art.

“It will be an environment in which events can take place, from short-lived spoken word performances to traditional large-scale exhibitions. a social space for interaction; and a safe place to rest, ”said Mark Lee, co-founder of the company with Sharon Johnston.

Kitchener Contemporary was founded in 2016 with an emphasis on pop-up art programs across the city. The most recent – and arguably most famous – is the three-week festival for the people, held on Cherry Street Pier to mark the opening of the pier, which features art installations, interactive sculptures, short films, and lectures.

Describing themselves as a new way of presenting art and information, the group says they have “tried to go beyond fixed architecture and programmatic models”.

According to Kitchener Contemporary, this is the approach they took when choosing an architect for their new space. The selection process was led by David van der Leer as part of the New York-based curator’s new consulting firm DVDL Design Decisions. The firm oversaw a 14-person jury that included Kitchener Contemporary officials, city officials, and members of the art scene.

After a nationwide search, the group finally selected Johnston Marklee, who was founded 20 years ago and has received over 30 awards for its designs. The co-founders were also selected to be the artistic directors of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Little is known what the final design of the space will be, but Johnston and Lee say it will challenge the concept of a conventional museum.

“We envision Kitchener Contemporary as the model for the 21st century museum where there are no boundaries between art and the public,” said Johnston.

  • Johnston Marklee [johnstonmarklee.com]
  • The second act of the Chicago Architecture Biennial will deal with the roles of architects in a frayed society [Curbed]

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