Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

The Victoria Memorial Museum Building (VMMB) was the first purpose-built museum in Canada. Built between 1905 and 1910, the museum is one of the most significant heritage structures in Ottawa, and a Canadian National Historic Site.


  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


  • Canadian Museum of Nature and Public Works and Government Services Canada

Project Status

  • Completed 2010


  • PKG Joint Venture Architects

In 2000, the museum initiated the largest renovation in its history, which included an upgrade to all building systems and structural engineering, repair and renewal. Queen Elizabeth II opened the newly refurbished building in 2009.

The combination of the building’s heavy stone masonry structure, poor site conditions and its heritage designation made the VMMB Rehabilitation Project a considerable structural challenge. While maintaining the integrity of the building’s heritage, we also needed to incorporate a sustainable approach to the renovations.

We were appointed to remediate distress caused by settlement and help create the new Queen’s Lantern, a glass tower, to replace the original masonry tower that was removed in 1915. We also completed a comprehensive seismic analysis of the existing stone masonry structure and design services to upgrade the seismic resistance of the building to 150% of the National Building Code requirements.

We were also engaged as the mechanical and electrical sub-consultant for design and construction site review services. The existing mechanical and electrical systems had reached the end of their useful economic life, so the challenge was to enhance their performance to meet the needs of preservation, conservation and display. Our mandate included design of a multi-site integrated security, access control and CCTV system.

We also needed to harmonise these modifications with the building’s architecture. To express the evolution of the museum, the architectural team had been challenged with making the building more transparent, posing particular challenges for the building envelope performance in the harsh Ottawa climate.

Since reopening, the museum has welcomed more than twice as many annual visitors and has received many awards.