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Major museum project begins in Iqaluit with help from Guy Architects

A $80-$90 million museum project is in the early stages of construction in Iqaluit, according to Wayne Guy, owner of Guy Architects.
A digital representation of the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre at night. Photo courtesy of Dorte Mandrup Architects

A $80-$90 million museum project is in the early stages of construction in Iqaluit, according to Wayne Guy, owner of Guy Architects.

A collaboration between Dorte Mandrup Architects and Guy Architects won an international competition by designing the best museum chosen by a jury. The prize was that they would be the ones to construct the museum, which will be called the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre when it’s completed in 2026, said Guy.

Guy said that out of all the contestants, they were the only ones North of 60 to be on the short list.

In order to get a better understanding of what should go into the design, Guy said he and members of his team spent a week in Iqaluit on the ground talking to people.

“It was a real honour to hear the stories of the Inuit as it was told to us,” he said. “Those stories were a great inspiration for the design of the building.”

The 55,000 square-foot building will be filled with Inuit artifacts currently in storage down south, Guy added.

“(The property) has the exhibition areas to host artifacts, an administrative core for all the anthropologist and conservatives for the museum, and it will also have other functions for delivering cultural components of culture which would be (fire ceremonies), drum making and that type of thing,” he said.

Guy said that they are currently assessing the site and working on getting civil services connected to the location.

In an interview with Canadian Architect magazine, Dorte Mandrup said that the building’s design was inspired by the landscape and the movement of the snow and the wind.

“Following the topographic curves and distinct longitudinal features of the terrain, the building sits parallel to the prevailing north-western winds,” she said in the article. “It carves into the rocky hillside overlooking Iqaluit with the large roof continuing the lines of the landscape and forming a new public space and a viewing platform from which visitors can enjoy the uninterrupted views towards Frobisher Bay and Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park.

“By taking advantage of the protective rock, the building naturally creates a shelter over the sensitive collections and exhibitions while the expansive window gesture offers a space filled with daylight and generous views towards the south-west for future gathering and activities.”

According to the same article, the museum will be constructed to honor the Government of Canada’s dedication to the Nunavut Final Agreement and Bill C-15.