When we think of iconic buildings in Vancouver, the Museum of Anthropology lands in the top 5 pretty much every time. Designed by Arthur Erickson, the museum out at UBC is a classic example of West Coast modern design. So, why the need to rebuild it?

Turns out, it’s earthquakes. Back in the 1970s when the museum was being built, not too much was known about seismic activity and its effects on buildings. In particular, the 5-storey tall Great Hall (where all the massive totem poles are), would not survive a major earthquake.

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What’s more, most ways that the building can be reinforced would affect the design of the building, which is a no-go. So instead, the museum chose something called ‘base isolation technology’. Basically, they’re tearing down the building and rebuilding it with a foundation that uses a mix of rubber and steel.

That way, the building would ‘sway’ instead of break during a major earthquake, protecting the artifacts inside. The totem pole move is actually underway, and the project should be completed sometime in 2022. If you’re curious, the building will stay open during this time.

So, we actually recommend checking it out once the tear-down starts! It’s a rare opportunity to see a landmark getting rebuilt, so don’t pass the opportunity up.

Museum of Anthropology

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 AM-5 PM, Closed Monday
Where: 6393 NW Marine Drive
Admission: $18