The Nisga’a Museum: an odyssey fulfilled

2012/03/15

The Nisga’a Museum in British Columbia, Canada, is a celebration of the culture and history of the Nisga’a Nation. The design of the building was a true collaboration, and the architect, exhibit designer, and landscape design consultant all used Vectorworks software to bring their visions to life.

For 113 years, the Nisga’a Nation in Canada fought for a treaty that would empower its people to form their own government and reclaim their land. They hoped to build a home for their sacred artifacts, a forum to share traditions and ideas, and a showcase for their unique culture.

While it was a landmark event in Nisga’a history, the opportunity to build this museum was remarkable for the team of designers as well. “It’s very uncommon in Canada to work on a museum project from the ground up, because most museums across North America already exist—to design a museum from scratch, this is an exceptionally rare privilege,” says Peter Hardcastle of Hillel Architecture. “So to also have an opportunity to work closely with the exhibit designer and the curator and interpreter, that makes it an even stronger project.” He teamed up with Donald Luxton, project manager; Alan Graves, exhibit designer; Duane Ensing, landscape design consultant; Kevin Neary, curator and interpreter; Fran Johnson, manager of Ayuukhl Nisga’a Department who is responsible for language and culture portfolio; and many other talented people to bring this historic project to fruition.

Ensing has been a Vectorworks user since 2001, and he used the Vectorworks Landmark program to accurately communicate his designs to the Nisga’a. He was able to reference Hardcastle’s architectural design files, saving time in the process. “It actually worked really well,” he says. “Every time I got a new drawing from Peter Hardcastle, I could just import it into his own file again and update it. All my layers and classes and visibilities stayed the way I wanted them to, and I didn’t have to change it in the new document anymore. That was awesome for me.”

Graves, a Vectorworks user since 1997, says, “Luckily, Vectorworks does everything I ever want it to do and more; probably 1,000 times more than what I would ever need it to do. The fact that it is so flexible, and I can share it with so many people so easily—is very powerful. If you can’t communicate, you’re nowhere. I categorically could not do my job without Vectorworks. Absolutely.”

This is an amazing story, and we thank the designers for sharing it with us. Please visit the Case Studies section of our website to read more.

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