MOA Great Hall Renewal

In Design
Project Manager:
UBC Project Services - Aletha Utimati
Nick Milkovich Architects Inc
Structural Engineer

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) will receive seismic upgrades to its Great Hall in order to augment its structural integrity and help preserve the invaluable cultural significance and living heritage of its world-renowned Indigenous Northwest Coast collection. In addition to the seismic upgrades of the Great Hall, MOA will also receive other building improvements, such as updates to its skylights, lighting, roofing, window coverings and sprinkler system. Renewal of the Great Hall is currently in the design stage, and the roofing system and skylight replacement work has been underway for the past year — some of the skylights have been replaced as part of the roofing project and the curved skylights will be replaced during the Great Hall Renewal. Roofing work will be substantially completed prior to the start of construction for the Great Hall Renewal.

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, 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.

For information on the Development Permit, please visit UBC Campus & Community Planning.

For information on the Museum of Anthropology, please visit MOA.


UBC News: Building resilience around MOA’s irreplaceable collection

CTV News: Iconic Vancouver landmark to be torn down and rebuilt to make it seismically safe

Vancouver Sun: One of B.C.’s iconic structures to be rebuilt

CityNews Vancouver: The Museum of Anthropology at UBC is undergoing a major seismic upgrade to the majestic Great Hall

Daily Hive: UBC Museum of Anthropology’s Great Hall undergoing $30.5 million rebuild

The Georgia Straight: UBC to rebuild Museum of Anthropology’s Great Hall for seismic upgrades