Qaumajuq – Honor Award

Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) in Winnipeg, Manitoba houses the Gallery’s celebrated collection of contemporary Inuit art and provides new facilities for an expanded studio art and educational program. The 36,000 square-foot addition to the iconic existing building by Gustavo da Roza faces south toward the Manitoba Legislature building in downtown Winnipeg, and includes new galleries, a lecture theatre, research areas, and a visible art storage vault. With a collection of over 12,000 works of Inuit art, the WAG has had a long and continuous commitment to the research, exhibition, and publication of art by Inuit. Qaumajuq is the largest exhibition gallery in Canada devoted to Indigenous art.


This project builds on the culture of the Inuit to produce a contemporary and relevant piece of architecture. It is beautifully designed and resolves a complex program on a difficult site. It complements the 1971 building without mimicking or competing with it. Outstanding.

Noteworthy performance features include:

1. Assemblies, materials, and equipment all perform at a high level to efficiently maintain thermal comfort and maximize uses of daylight.

2. Promotes connections of government, public and university uses.

//framework for design excellence measures
Measure 1: Design for Integration
Qaumajuq is not just a building, it is a cultural venue for the Inuit in Canada, and a beacon of Inuit agency. Inuit partners have been integral to its conception and lead the development of exhibitions and educational programming. Qaumajuc amplifies the voices of the Inuit artists and promotes cultural understanding. It is a place for mentorship, learning, and intercultural dialogue.
Measure 2: Design for Equitable Communities
The center features Inuit-led programming, including the inaugural exhibition INUA, organized by a team of curators representing the four regions of Inuit Nunangat, the homeland of Inuit in Canada. Qaumajuq is a cornerstone for building capacity among emerging Inuit arts and heritage professionals, a place for mentorship, learning, and intercultural dialogue. The project includes outdoor landscaping, public seating, and plaza with public art works as well as an open lobby with visible vault.
Measure 3: Design for Ecosystems
33% of the site area (6,674 square feet) is dedicated to open plaza at the ground level, with 35% of this area dedicated to drought tolerant sedum plantings. Exterior lighting is very minimal: at entrances, as required for egress, and for display of two site sculpures. Design as developed to follow LEED v4 requirements taking into account the urban context the project is in. The main façade is not illuminated at night.
Measure 4: Design for Water
Interior water consumption was reduced by 20% from baseline by using WaterSense labelled low flow fixtures (or local equivalents). Outdoor water use is also reduced from baseline by 30% by choosing drought tolerant plants and an efficient irrigation system.
Measure 5: Design for Economy
A small, world-class museum has a higher cost/sf than a larger building. However, part of the art storage is in a permanent display at the main Lobby. This allows for multiple purposes: welcoming space, public hall, art gallery, and educational space. Throughout the develpement the program was refined to respond to the Client’s needs efficiently. The library reading room is used as a board room, small gatherings, and educational program; the flexible galleries can be divided multiple ways. They are mainly used for exhibitions but also support educational programming and large events such as the annual Gala.
Measure 6: Design for Energy
The IAC achieved 12% energy savings over Manitoba Energy Code for Buildings, based on energy model. The design includes high performance walls and roof, high performance glazing, demand-controlled ventilation, Variable speed pumps and condensing boilers. Museums have strict requirements for display lighting and temperature/humidity control that limit achievable energy savings. The local Manitoba Energy Code benchmark EUI is 235 kbtu/sf and the estimated EUI is 207 kbtu/sf. The values automatically applied above are not in line with the Manitoba Energy Code for Buildings, so results are skewed.
Measure 7: Design for Well-Being
Due to strict temperature and humidity control in gallery spaces, operable windows were not advisable. Daylight analysis of Gallery spaces helped find balance between art conservation requirements and visitor comfort. Merv 13 filters were used on all HVAC equipment. Low emitting materials were used in accordance with LEED v4.1: low-VOC materials were used for Adhesive, Sealants, and Sealant Primers, and Paints & Coatings; Flooring materials comply with accepted product certifications, and Composite Wood products have documented low formaldehyde emissions that meet the California Air Resources Board ATCM formaldehyde requirements for ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) resins or no added formaldehyde resins (NAUF).
Measure 8: Design for Resources
Reduction of finishes – minimal interior finishes – exposed structural concrete slab flooring in most spaces.
Measure 9: Design for Change
Quamajuq accommodates a range of anticipated uses. The library reading room is also used as a board room and gathering space. The Learning Steps (a 90-seat auditorium) are used for a variety of medium-sized assemblies. The Gallery spaces have varied proportions and sizes to accommodate different scales and can change every few months with a new exhibition/layout. The galleries also support a range of assembly programs, as needed/desired beyond educational tours and galas. Quamajuq’s social mission brings Inuit art to the public, promoting new encounters and contributing to a richer community.
Measure 10: Design for Discovery
Qaumajuq deepens the world’s understanding of Canada. The North covers over one third of Canada’s landmass, yet fewer than two per cent of Canadians will ever set foot in the North. Qaumajuq will be a place to build and understand these relationships. The Visible Vault greets every visitor to Qaumajuq. Designed to be a civic amenity, it exhibits the WAG’s impressive collection to visitors as well as passersby. The vault’s curved glass walls encapsulate the artwork into a form without any perceptible boundaries. Its sinuous, undulating curve allows visitors to walk around the collection but also be immersed in it.
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