Written in the Stone - An Architectural Tour of the Canadian Museum of Civilization


The Design Process - PROGRESS OF THE WORK

It was of course expected that the design be able to be constructed within the allocated funding and schedule. This too was a major factor in the continuing re-evaluation and modification of design drawings. It was quite a task to develop economical structural solutions to complex structural forms, in the short time allotted. Cardinal's conceptual design was not approved by Cabinet until November 1983, with site excavation starting the next month and construction early in 1984. This left just under three years to meet the original deadline for construction.

Construction - S2004-1241, CD2004-1376Construction - S2004-1242, CD2004-1376
The massive task of constructing the new museum began in 1984 and was not completed until 1989.
© Canadian Museum of Civilization, S2004-1241 (left),
S2004-1242 (right), CD2004-1376

Because of this and the evolutionary nature of the design process, a "fast track" method was adopted, whereby construction proceeded as design decisions were still being made and incorporated into the architectural drawings. The progress of design sometimes did not greatly outpace construction. Here, Cardinal's use of computers in the design process was a great boon; at times the computer-updated drawings were reprinted almost daily.

Construction - S2004-1244, CD2004-1376Construction - S2004-1243, CD2004-1376
The river end of the Museum, at different stages in construction in 1987.
© Canadian Museum of Civilization, S2004-1244 (left),
S2004-1243 (right), CD2004-1376

From the start there were doubts that the 1986 deadline could be met; the interruption of work through labour disputes did not help matters. By the end of 1984 it was apparent how seriously underfunded the two new museum projects were. The completion of their Cabinet-approved designs was threatened. Options were considered ranging from not finishing parts of the building, to finishing it on an extended schedule, to major reductions in the original standards.

Grand Hall - S2004-1246, CD2004-1376IMAX Theatre - S2004-1245, CD2004-1376
(left) The framework of the Grand Hall is seen, and behind it the three main levels of the public display wing, at an early stage of construction. (right) The IMAX theatre is seen in the foreground.
© Canadian Museum of Civilization, S2004-1246 (left),
S2004-1245 (right), CD2004-1376

It was decided by the Minister of Communications to transfer control of the project and of the Canada Museums Construction Corporation to the Department of Public Works, which had more construction expertise; this was done in May 1985. A project review at this stage reached the conclusions that both the Museum and the Gallery needed to be larger than originally expected, that the Museum was badly behind schedule, and both buildings were underfunded, given their size and complexity. Treasury Board therefore increased the funding for both projects to $261 million. This injection of funds allowed the construction of CMC to be completed within a year and a half of its original deadline.

The copper roofing is laid atop the public display wing.
© Canadian Museum of Civilization, S2004-1247, CD2004-1376
Copper Roofing - S2004-1247, CD2004-1376

Previous Next