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Great Hall Seismic Upgrades + Renewal

Project Overview

In November 2020, preparations began for a rebuild of its Great Hall at MOA to upgrade the resiliency of the Museum and protect its irreplaceable collection in the event of a major earthquake. When the project is complete the Great Hall will look like it does now with some improvements, including new lighting and carpeting. MOA is also currently under construction for other building upgrades, such as updates to its skylights, lighting, roofing, window coverings and fire protection. Together, these improvements will better showcase and protect the collection. MOA’s landscape will also be fully remediated once construction is complete.

MOA has important heritage value for UBC. The Great Hall seismic upgrades therefore involve a sensitive approach, following conservation principles that address both the heritage values and character-defining elements of the site and the building. Feedback from the Arthur Erickson Foundation has informed the architectural and construction approach to the project, ensuring the Great Hall will retain the appearance of the original space to preserve its architectural character and heritage values. Likewise, the Musqueam Indian Band has participated in planning meetings.

The design solution emerging for the seismic upgrades to the Great Hall is to utilize base isolators under the suspended main floor slab to absorb the impact of seismic activity, separating the building from the ground and from the adjoining museum structures.

In preparation for the seismic upgrades to the Great Hall, all of the massive wooden carvings that reside in the Great Hall will be lowered and relocated elsewhere in the Museum ahead of the construction. MOA is liaising with Indigenous communities and families whose cultural objects are being moved from the Great Hall. They will continue to provide input into protocols around moving and re-installing these works into the Great Hall post-construction. The safety and protection of these irreplaceable Indigenous objects is of the highest priority to MOA’s team, who will ensure they are well cared for before and during construction. Many of the poles were already lowered last fall and placed in the O’Brian Gallery adjacent to the Great Hall, where visitors have the rare opportunity to see the poles as they rest during the construction.

Once construction begins in December 2020, the Great Hall will be closed while the rest of the Museum will remain open to the public. Visitors will still be able to enjoy the other exhibition spaces, including the Koerner European Ceramics Gallery, the Multiversity Galleries with more than 9,000 objects from around the world, the Elspeth McConnell Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks and the Audain Gallery that houses popular feature exhibitions. Much of the popular outdoor exhibits, including the Haida Houses and outdoor poles, will also remain accessible to the public.

Project proposal:

360° virtual tour of the Great Hall in its original state:

Photo album of poles lowering, November 2018 + November 2020 (click image to open):

Photo by Heidi Swierenga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Project Timeline

Upcoming milestones

November 16 – 27, 2020: Poles in the Great Hall will be lowered and moved to an adjacent gallery where they will rest for the duration of the seismic upgrades. Visitors will have a rare opportunity to witness the delicate and complex process of lowering these massive carvings, and to see them resting once lowered.

Early December 2020: A construction hoarding wall will be erected to close the Great Hall from the rest of the Museum. The Great Hall will not be accessible to the public from this point forward.

January 2021: Construction begins and is anticipated to be completed in Summer 2022. The Museum and all its gallery spaces (with the exception of the Great Hall) will be open to the public.

Overview


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the scope of the project?

This Fall 2020, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) began preparations for a rebuild of its Great Hall to upgrade the seismic resiliency of the space and protect its irreplaceable collection in the event of a major earthquake. As part of a larger renewal project, the Museum is also currently receiving other building improvements, such as updates to its skylights, lighting, roofing, window coverings and fire protection.

Why is this project happening?

As part of ongoing seismic planning, UBC conducted a comprehensive evaluation of seismic risk across all campus buildings to assess, plan, and prioritize upgrades to buildings or areas within the buildings that have the highest seismic risk. MOA’s Great Hall was determined to have a high level of seismic risk and therefore was prioritized for upgrade.

During the project planning process, it was determined that it would not be feasible to achieve improved seismic performance to the Great Hall while retaining the existing structural elements. A complete rebuild of the Great Hall was determined as the best approach to upgrading the resiliency of the space without compromising its architectural integrity.

UBC and MOA acknowledge that the Museum is built on the traditional, ancestral and unceded land of the Musqueam people. Musqueam Indian Band has participated in the planning process.

What is the project timeline?

From November 16 to 27, 2020, MOA will undergo the delicate, complex process of lowering and moving the totem poles from the Great Hall and into an adjacent gallery, in preparation for seismic upgrades. In December 2020, a construction hoarding wall will be erected to close the Great Hall from the rest of the Museum. Construction in the Great Hall is expected to start immediately after and is anticipated to be completed in Summer 2022.

What’s happening to the collection in the Great Hall during construction?

All objects from the Great Hall, including more than 20 massive carvings, will be temporarily located elsewhere in the Museum in time for construction. Some of the poles have already been lowered and are available to the public to see. This unique collection will be reinstalled into the Great Hall once construction is complete.

MOA is liaising with Indigenous communities and families whose cultural objects are being moved from the Great Hall. They will continue to provide input into protocols around moving and re-installing these works into the Great Hall post-construction. MOA’s team will ensure the irreplaceable Indigenous objects will be well cared for before and during construction.

Is the Museum going to be closed during the whole construction process?

While the Great Hall will be closed during construction as of December 2020, the rest of the Museum will remain open with many exhibitions for visitors to experience. All objects from the Great Hall, including more than 20 massive carvings, will be located elsewhere in the Museum in time for construction. Some of the poles have already been lowered and are available to the public to see.

All other gallery spaces at MOA will open to enjoy, including the Koerner European Ceramics Gallery, the Multiversity Galleries with more than 9,000 objects from around the world, the Elspeth McConnell Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks and the Audain Gallery that houses popular feature exhibitions. The Haida Houses located outside behind MOA will still be accessible for the public.

What will the Great Hall look like after the project is complete?

MOA is considered to have important heritage value for UBC. The rebuild of the Great Hall involves a sensitive approach that will follow conservation principles that address both the heritage values and character-defining elements of the site and the building. Feedback from Arthur Erickson Foundation has shaped the architectural and construction approach to the project. The new rebuild for the Great Hall will retain the appearance of the original space to preserve its architectural character and heritage values. When the project is complete the building will look like it does now with some improvements, including new lighting and carpeting.

MOA will also receive some other building improvements, such as updates to its skylights, lighting, roofing, window coverings and fire protection – some of this work has been underway for the past year. Together, these improvements will better showcase and protect the collection. MOA’s landscape will also be fully remediated once construction is complete.

Was there public consultation about the project?

As part of public consultation for this project, a virtual open house was held on June 29, 2020. It was a drop-in style event hosted on Zoom. UBC Campus + Community Planning staff, project design representatives and MOA staff were available to answer questions or respond to comments. The public comment period for this project closed on July 7, 2020. Comments received were then considered as part of the development permit approval process.


Project Details

The Great Hall Renewal is a joint project of UBC Campus + Community Planning, UBC Infrastructure Development and the Museum of Anthropology.

Please visit the UBC Campus + Community Planning website for project details, documents and technical information, including:

  • •  Project Overview
  • •  Public Consultation
  • •  Project Considerations
  • •  Architectural Plans
  • •  Landscape Plans
  • •  Tree Protection Plan
  • •  Frequently Asked Questions
  • •  Project Timeline

Further project updates will also be available on the UBC Infrastructure Development website.


Project Team

Development Permit: DP19025

Status: In construction

Project Manager: UBC Project Service — Aletha Utimati

Architect: Nick Milkovich Architects Inc.

Construction Manager: Smith Bros. & Wilson

Structural Engineer: Equilibrium