Building a Vision for the Future

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) ​is the first museum in the world dedicated solely to the evolution, celebration, and future of human rights. The museum, designed by internationally renowned architect Antoine Predock, treats visitors to an immersive, interactive experience intended to encourage reflection and dialogue and, it is hoped, change. The uniqueness of the building’s mandate is reflected in its architecture: sloped segmented walls, large vertical expanses, and a glazed façade and tower form a deceptively simple yet incredibly complex structure.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR)
is the first museum in the world dedicated solely to
the evolution, celebration, and future of human
rights. The glass “cloud” surrounding the building’s
southwest face is made of 1,300 individual pieces
of glass.

A visitor pauses in the Hall of Hope to take in the
Canadian Journeys gallery at the museum.

The CMHR is recognized as the first large-scale,
complex project in Canada to use 3-D modeling
universally across all consultant and contractor

Virtual Construction Fine-tunes Estimating

The unusual form of the building meant that the structure and the architectural components could not be fully conceived through two-dimensional drawings, making the project extremely difficult to bid on and build using standard methods. To help resolve these issues, the team developed a fully integrated 3-D model of the building comprising information from 40 different companies located in Canada, the US, and Germany. This model allowed them to see and interact with the architecture and thereby mitigate potential issues.
As the complex geometry evolved, the team continually adjusted the details to ensure the model was technically and aesthetically correct and current. The increased potential for bidder risk would normally translate into higher project costs, but the real-time 3-D model allowed the team to identify accurate as-built-caliber quantities for particular trade scopes, resulting in competitive pricing.

Building from the top down

One of the many striking architectural features of the museum included is the Hall of Hope. A series of individually illuminated, alabaster-clad ramps crisscross the hall, taking visitors from gallery to gallery and eventually to the Tower of Hope, a 328-foot-high glass structure with an observation deck that overlooks the Winnipeg horizon.
In most cases a building is built from the bottom up. The Hall of Hope, however, was built from the top down, allowing the team to start work at the apex of the space on a large skylight and on the topmost of the ramps. A forest of tube-and-clamp scaffolding 170 feet high filled the hall, and workers dismantled it as they went. Tube-and-clamp scaffold is less conventional than standard frame scaffolding, but the material is highly configurable and can be adapted to almost any height and shape. Every piece must be stick built, and it all requires extensive inspection and engineering to put in place.
The team also reengineered the main floor so it would support the weight of the scaffold. Building from the top down requires much foresight and planning; before you start to disassemble the topmost scaffolding and thus lose access to the upper reaches, what you have finished working on must be perfect in every detail.
And the details were perfect on opening day—the museum wowed and inspired and will continue to provide visitors an opportunity to learn from the past, and create change for our future.
“This was a very complex build, and PCL’s ability to carve out solutions as challenges presented themselves was a critical factor in ensuring a final product that Canadians can be proud of,” said Susanne Robertson, Chief Financial Officer, Canadian Museum for Human Rights.


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