Art Gallery of Grande Prairie

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Completion Pushed Back

By JOSEPHINE LIM, Daily Herald-Tribune staff
Monday, March 21, 2011

The completion of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie restoration has been pushed back a little.

The gallery is now expected to open by mid-November. It is about 20% complete.

The building demolition and selective demolition are 90% and 84% complete, respectively. Mechanical and electrical work are only 2% and 12% complete, respectively.

“I’m extremely happy with the project to date,” said Prairie Gallery building committee chairman Coun. Alex Gustafson. “The contractors and administration are working together to make sure that this project is done with the best magnitude and it’s going to be one of the most beautiful historic buildings in Alberta.”

The 1929 structure, built as a high school, required a major revamp after its southern roof collapsed due to heavy snow four years ago this past weekend.

“In a demolition process, it was very crucial to do it slowly and take the time in order to not destroy any historical parts of that building,” he said.

It’s also anticipated that the $9.967-million project will be well under budget, but Gustafson stressed that there’s still 80% more work to be done.

Robert Steven, gallery executive director/curator, said he’s excited for the opportunity to save some money.

So far, the gallery contributed $900,000 towards the project and is expected to bring that total to $1 million when it is complete, he said. He submitted a report hoping that if the project is under budget, the gallery will be able to save some money since it’s a 10% partner.

“We are a small not-for-profit (organization) and as you can see from my report, given the length of time that the disaster’s gone on for, we’ve expended all of our insurance funds,” Steven said. “The remaining $100,000 if it can be saved, it will save us from raising that money.”

The project was able to cut costs when it awarded the contract last May because construction market prices were going down.

“That has been a big factor but I also credit the city administration with careful management of the project,” he said.

But the budget is dependent on the insurance claim the building receives when it collapsed. It could take another year to finalize those numbers, Gustafson said.

“When the smoke clears at the end of the project, if there’s money left over that (the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie) is the most likely the first place it would go,” he said.