Skip to content

Construction compromises might be made for Thunder Bay art gallery

Rising material costs could change the design of the new waterfront gallery

THUNDER BAY — Construction of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery continues, but some changes might be needed as the cost of building it continues to rise. 

According to the art gallery's executive director, Matthew Hills, the rising cost of construction might require the city to change some of its design plans. 

"We're at a point now where we're considering and having to make hard decisions about the overall design and operations of the building. As a group, we're looking at compromises and flexibilities, and some of the value-engineering processes that come out of the construction management model are being examined. 

"We have the right people at the table in Colliers and Tom Jones Construction to help us figure out how to realize the gallery and its full potential that our community in Thunder Bay deserves."

He said the board is exploring all possibilities when it comes to how they might have to cut costs. 

"We have not determined exactly what we'll do. We're just at a point of both actively fundraising and seeking support in the community to realize the full vision of the gallery, but also examining various scenarios and ways to ensure value and cost efficiency in relation to the budget. 

"So we're exploring everything and I can't speak specifically to any details." 

Hills specified that delays in construction likely won't affect the budget, but the rising cost of materials will be the bigger concern. 

The roof was recently installed on the building's frame, which now gives a better silhouette of the final product. 

"It's really fantastic to see some of the steel beams that are custom-designed for that roof. They really hint at the overall design and how responsive it is to the shoreline of Lake Superior. You can start to see as you drive along Sleeping Giant Parkway some of the profile and space that the gallery will have in that new location."

Hills is excited to have more room to store and grow its collection and to have more space for programming. 

"Our school programs and camp programs are oversubscribed. We have to turn kids away that want opportunities to be learning and working with art.

"This new facility represents three times the space for us and we're really excited to realize that and to start to address some of the needs in the communities and the ways that we work so successfully here."

Costs to build the gallery were last reported at $57 million with hopes the gallery will open in early 2026. 

— TBnewswatch