May 9, 2005
Museum of Human Rights (top
and above) Renderings Courtesy Antoine Predock Architects
War Museum (above)
Photography © Harry Foster, CMC
Largely because of government spending
priorities and low levels of philanthropic giving, decades
can pass in Canada without the prospect of any new national
museums. Yet as luck would have it, within three weeks this
spring, New Mexico architect Antoine Predock won a competition
to design the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg,
Manitoba, and the new Canadian War Museum, designed by Moriyama
& Teshima Architects opened in Ottawa.
Predocks design, unveiled on April 15, will be set
on a massive Tyndal limestone bed, rising 300 feet like a
glassenclosed rock formation, topped by a crystalline tower.The
hard effect will be softened by local tall-grass plantings,
trees, and a central plaza illuminated by electronic information
display panels. The museum is expected to cost nearly $C300
Predocks lyrical description of his design, unveiled
April 15, is that of a symbolic apparition of ice, clouds
and stone set in a field of sweet grass. A Ttower of
hope, he says, and a beacon for humanity.
His design was also a beacon for the review committee, which
chose Predock over two Montreal architectural finalists, and
from an original 62 firms in 21 countries. New York museum
planner Ralph Appelbaum will handle the exhibit design, highlighting
the global sweep of human rights struggles, including the
creation of Canadas Charter of Rights. When the museum
opens in three or four years it is bound to be the most dazzling
piece in the otherwise conventional architectural landscape
of Manitobas provincial capital.
Halfway across the country, the 440,000-square-foot Canadian
War Museum in Ottawa is set to open on May 8. It too tells
a story of Canadas military history and the implements
of war recalling lives sacrificed in battle.
Moriyama & Teshima Architects, Toronto were joined by
Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects, Ottawa, in the design of
the $C132 million, low-profile museum. It rises about 75 feet
above the nearby Ottawa River, and features sloping glass
walls and a copper-clad roof..
Moriyama notes the museum emphasizes sustainability. It
uses river water for cooling, concrete made with recycled
fly ash, low-maintenance grasses on its roof, operable windows,
and energy-efficient HVAC systems. The central architectural
theme, regeneration, is similar to other developments proposed
for a desolate river site near the Parliament Buildings.