Museum of Anthropology Great Hall to undergo seismic improvements this fall

Construction to rebuild the Great Hall of the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) — a project of UBC Infrastructure Development — will begin this fall, due to the museum’s high level of seismic risk.

The Great Hall will be closed during the renovation process but the rest of the museum, which reopened on July 8, will remain accessible to the public. According to the project timeline, construction in the Great Hall is anticipated to be completed during the summer of 2022.

In a seismic resilience plan, MOA was identified as having a very high level of seismic risk: the building’s collapse would cause the highest number of fatalities of any building on campus. Additionally, UBC has been working on envelope repairs in MOA since 2014 in order to prevent the building from leaking in the future.

“We’re really wanting to, at the end of the day, come up with a seismically safe Great Hall that’s been rebuilt to modern, high-performance seismic standards but is really faithful to the original design,” said Jennifer Sanguinetti, managing director of UBC Infrastructure Development.

The renovated Great Hall will look the same as it does currently, but with improved seismic base isolators, fire protection, skylight and lighting, roll-down shading and carpeting.

In preparation for these upgrades, the Indigenous wooden carvings in the Great Hall will be relocated elsewhere prior to construction.

UBC has also consulted the Musqueam Indian Band in the development of this renewal project for the Great Hall. But when contacted by The Ubyssey, the Musqueam Indian Band said that they were not directly involved in the planning process.

“Some of their particular concerns we’re working through are around the landscape restoration,” said Sanguinetti. “For sure we’re working … to have them as active participants in the planning of the project.”

Because of the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, UBC Campus & Community Planning organized a drop-in style open house for MOA through Zoom on June 29. Sanguinetti said the feedback for the project was positive.

UBC has also received support from the Arthur Erickson Foundation in the planning process and it has shaped its architectural approach to carry the legacy of Arthur Erickson, who designed MOA.

“Generally speaking, the community feedback really shows that people understood the challenges that were brought with seismic safety for complex structures such as MOA and … totally support the direction that we’re going in,” said Sanguinetti.