Unique Construction

Cutting-edge design – The Museum is an innovative structure of curving lines and bold geometry. Many of the surfaces are irregular. More than 80 per cent of the walls are sloped at unusual angles. Antoine Predock’s unconventional design required the latest building technologies, including 3D modelling.

High-tech tools – The Museum was the first large-scale, complex project in Canada on which all teams used virtual (computer-modelled) design and construction. They employed tools such as 3D printing, holograms and motion-capture technology.

Tricky challenges – The steel frame for the glass Cloud features up to 13 connections to a single node. The Cloud is made of 1,335 custom-cut pieces of glass, no two exactly alike. More than 5,600 square metres of scaffolding were built to install the Cloud.

Respect for the site – The Museum consulted with Indigenous elders prior to foundation work on the building. On their advice, medicine bags were deposited into holes dug for concrete piles and caissons, to show respect and honour the earth. 

Recognition of achievement – In 2014, Engineering News-Record Magazine presented its Global Best Project (Cultural Category) award to the Museum. The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) Ontario division also presented two design awards of excellence to the Museum, its builders and designers.


Awe-inspiring stone

Three varieties of ancient stone, sourced from widely different parts of the globe, play significant roles in the building.

Alabaster – The Museum’s ramps are clad in translucent white alabaster. Quarried in Spain, it is beautifully patterned with veins that might suggest blood vessels or other organic forms. The architect has described the ramps as “a ribbon of circulation” through the building. Alabaster, he notes, “has mythic associations both sacred and utilitarian.”

Tyndall stone – The Roots and Mountain showcase Manitoba’s own Tyndall stone. This cream-coloured, mottled limestone is quarried near the town of Garson. It has been used in many of the province’s landmarks, including the Legislative Building. It contains small fossils of prehistoric marine creatures.

Basalt – The basalt columns in the Stuart Clark Garden of Contemplation formed millions of years ago, when volcanic lava cooled rapidly into pillar-like structures. These columns have a hexagonal, or other polygonal, shape. The Museum’s basalt comes from Inner Mongolia.


By the numbers

Here are some statistics from this epic project:

  • 24,155 square metres (260,000 square feet) of total building area
  • 4,366 square metres (47,000 square feet) of exhibit space  
  • 3,540 person-years of employment in the project
  • 378 piles and 136 concrete caissons to support the building
  • 18,000 square metres (193,750 square feet) of Tyndall stone in the Roots
  • 5,400 tonnes of steel in the framework of the Cloud 
  • 773 metres (2,536 feet) of white alabaster-clad ramps
  • 3,200 metre-square plates of alabaster on the ramps
  • 1,669 pieces of glass (1,335 in the Cloud, 334 in the Israel Asper Tower of Hope) 
  • 600 tonnes of basalt in the Stuart Clark Garden of Contemplation
  • 35,000 tonnes of concrete
  • 5.2-metre (17-foot) ceilings, on average
  • 100-metre (328-foot) Israel Asper Tower of Hope, higher than Manitoba’s Golden Boy and the Peace Tower in Ottawa