UBC Museum of Anthropology's Great Hall undergoing $30.5 million rebuild

Nov 10 2020, 12:00 pm

Site preparation is currently underway for the reconstruction of the most architecturally recognizable wing of the UBC Museum of Anthropology.

The Great Hall, part of the original 1976-built museum complex, will be demolished and rebuilt with the identical appearance of the existing structure to preserve the architectural character and heritage values of the design by Arthur Erickson — but with new engineering components for seismic resilience.

The foundations and concrete support beams of the Great Hall will be completely demolished and replaced with a superstructure that is dimensionally the same, with the use of high-strength concrete and movement joints.

The entirety of the new Great Hall structure will sit on a concrete slab suspended by base isolators that absorb some of the seismic energy, separating the building from the ground and from the main museum structure. A moat around the structure will allow for a movement of up to 35 cm in the event of an earthquake.

“Isolation is achieved by placing the structure on rubber or sliding bearings. As the ground shakes with high acceleration, the building on the isolators moves with higher displacement and lower acceleration. Base isolation reduces the loads on the structure by allowing the isolators to take up most of the flex,” reads a project backgrounder.

“The best chance at protecting the architecture, the occupants, and the building’s priceless contents is to rebuild the Great Hall on a base-isolated slab.”

ubc museum of anthropology great hall

New seismic resilient design of the Great Hall at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. (Nick Milkovich Architects/UBC)

ubc museum of anthropology great hall

New seismic resilient design of the Great Hall at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. (Nick Milkovich Architects/UBC)

This form of engineering design is common in Japan and New Zealand, especially for important buildings within high seismic zones.

In addition to the structural changes, tempered laminated glass will be used for the glass system facing the westward landscaping, and vaulted double-glazed seal units will be used for the skylights forming the roof of the Great Hall. Roll-down blinds will also be installed into the west glass facades, as the existing structure has a heat gain and glare issues from the low westerly afternoon sun.

Other project components include upgraded interior lighting, carpeting, and fire protection systems.

ubc museum of anthropology great hall

Interior of the Great Hall at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. (UBC)

ubc museum of anthropology great hall

Exterior of the Great Hall at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. (UBC)

The existing landscaping west of the Great Hall will be used as a construction staging area. Upon completion, the landscaping will be remediated.

The process of temporarily relocating nearly two dozen massive First Nations wooden carvings featured within the Great Hall will be completed later this month. Other areas and galleries of the museum will remain open to the public during the construction period, which is expected to last until early 2022.

The university contracted Nick Milkovich Architects to perform design work, in collaboration with the Arthur Erickson Foundation on the architectural and construction approach to the project.

The Great Hall rebuild project carries a total cost of $30.5 million. The museum’s last major capital project was its 2009-completed renovation and expansion at a cost of $55.5 million.

ubc museum of anthropology

The relocation of the totem poles within the Great Hall at the UBC Museum of Anthropology ahead of demolition. (Sova Photo/UBC)

ubc museum of anthropology great hall

Exterior of the Great Hall at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. (UBC)

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