Royal Ontario Museum
Toronto, ON

Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum houses one of the largest collections of world culture and natural history exhibits on the planet. This project involved the creation of a new main entrance based on Daniel Libeskind’s design for “The Crystal.” The crystalline form is clad in 25 percent glass and 75 percent aluminum sitting on top of a steel frame. The Crystal’s canted walls do not touch the sides of the existing heritage buildings, but act as a pathway for pedestrians.

The Crystal is inarguably one of the most complex structures ever built in Canada. The structure was built around, through, and over top of, an iconic, occupied facility. This demanded particular sensitivity to protect the existing structure. The inherent instability in the shape of the structure placed heavy demands on the connections between sections and required complex joint fabrication using advanced manufacturing techniques.

Partner(s)
GMP
Structural engineer
Halsall & Associates
Facts & Figures
  • All pieces pre-fabricated and shipped to the site and no pieces were returned for re-work
  • No two pieces in the structure are the same and there are no vertical or horizontal elements
  • Steel tonnage: 3,000 tons
Our Role

Walters Inc. provided value-engineering, Design-Assist, construction engineering, detailing, fabrication and erection of the complex multifaceted “crystal-type” structure.

We were involved extensively in the Design-Build of the interior specialty fit-out framing and provided development assistance throughout the project.

Overcoming Challenges

This was a truly complex project unlike anything that had ever been built.  At the beginning of the project, extensive presentations (some animated) were presented to the client and owner to educate how the structure would be built. This was necessary to ensure that overall site logistics would allow the steel erection to proceed as planned and helped to reduce the concerns around structure stability during erection.

Very extensive construction engineering was required to maintain structure stability during erection; each construction sequence was completely modelled piece by piece. We had to develop a plan to control geometric “creep” during construction, employing laser total station surveying as a monitoring tool.

The project was also carried out in a very restrictive downtown site with limited lay down area so most materials had to be delivered on a just-in-time basis and erected virtually “off the truck.”

Perspectives

Architects
The architectural challenge on this project was to keep the connections inside of the finish lines which meant we had to work within a tight envelope.  There was lots of back and forth and close communication with the architect.

Structural Engineers
Wild geometry doesn’t begin to describe this project. Throughout the project, we had to develop unconventional techniques to monitor our progress and keep the geometry in check. We used continuous 3D surveying and very tight geometric control to keep on track. We also designed specialized joints specifically to maintain geometry.

Location
Royal Ontario Museum, Queens Park, Toronto, ON, Canada
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