"A museum is always a project that addresses the general community," said Christine Binswanger, senior partner at Herzog & de Meuron based in Switerzerland.
"It's nothing elitist, it's something very connecting."
Binswanger discussed her design approach in an interview with Rick Cluff on The Early Edition, ahead of a sold-out public talk at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on Wednesday.
"We try to understand: how do people behave in public space? What are spaces they like? Where do they gather? Which ones stay deserted? And why is that?"
Binswanger says local artists have been taking her through the city, to help her discover new things.
"When you drive through this city, there's every two minutes a new thing coming up, or a different kind of neighbourhood, different types of streetscapes and housing types and so on."
This is the first time the firm has designed a project in Canada.
$245 million still to be raised
The new gallery, which will be located at West Georgia and Cambie Streets in downtown Vancouver, will cost an estimated $300 million to build.
About $245 million still needs to be raised, said Kathleen Bartels, director of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
She said another significant contribution will be announced soon, but added that most investors are still waiting for more information.
"For key donors, they want to have some sense of what the building's going to look like," she said.
Conceptual designs for the new gallery are expected to be unveiled in 2015.