Images, vitals and description


Canadian Museum of Human Rights

The Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR) is the first and only Canadian museum solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights.

Stone Selection

PICCO’s first task was to research and source various materials that would accommodate both the Architect’s vision and the budget requirements of the project. Now part of an impressive project team, that included Smith-Carter Architects, Gracom Masonry, The Government of Canada, and others, communication and effective collaboration was equally critical.


Locally quarried Tyndall stone was ultimately selected for the exterior and interior main wall cladding. The stone met the architect’s vision for the exterior and being local (50kms from site), also met the LEED requirements of the project.


The garden of contemplation was to use Basalt. Basalt clad walls, floors and columns in the “Plug” and “Garden of Contemplation” we’re a stark choice, but naturally aligned with the design context of the museum. The “Garden” specifically was to be a space for reflection with impressive similarities to the natural beauty of Giants Causeway. The basalt was sourced from Mongolian suppliers.


A focal point and signature element of the interior of the building was the “snaking” gallery ramps that gracefully connected various levels of the museum. A special material was required here. Although easily viewed during the day, night illumination was the objective. Translucent back lit natural stone giving the appearance of solid carved blocks was the design intent.


PICCO’s consideration of materials for the ramps included glass laminated stone, cast glass and solid natural stone. After reviewing budgets, design intent, and feasibility, Alabaster from Spain was the aesthetic material short listed by the Architects. Shortly thereafter a trip that included Antoine himself was organized to Zaragosa, Spain to meet the supplier, Alabastros Aragoneses. The purpose for the trip was to review and better understand the material, the fabricator’s capabilities and to establish quality control parameters. There was also a concern for meeting the schedule and quality parameters as the architects were seeking the whitest alabaster and intended on eliminating the grey variations characteristic of some samples.


Interestingly, it was discovered that the whitest alabaster appeared less translucent and darkest when backlit. Key decisions would need to be made. When would the ramps be illuminated? How would the stone react to extended exposure to light and heat? What shading would present the best aesthetic? All questions culminated with a final decision to utilize a wider color range for the stone, as well as continuous illumination with back-lighting, during Museum operating hours.


Effective communication and coordination with the Spanish supplier was always top of mind. Project stakeholders established quality controls surrounding the stone back-lighting requirements. Light boxes were constructed and all stone pieces were painstakingly observed with backlighting before being approved for supply to the project.


Another challenge was the block sizes that were available at the quarry. The stone was extracted as boulders and then squared off to blocks. Unfortunately, only a limited number of larger blocks resulted through this process. Therefore, since the block sizes were varied and limited in size, a jointing pattern utilizing random heights and widths was established to maximize the yield of usable material. The distribution of alabaster stone widths was as follows: 25% quantity at 400mm (16”), 50% at 600mm (24”) and 25% at 800mm (32”). The maximum course height was 1200mm (48”).


Winnipeg, MB


Antoine Predock Architect




PCL Constructors Inc., Winnipeg

Halcrow Group

The Mitchell Partnership

Mulvey & Banani Int'l Inc.


Stone Supplier
Gillis Quarries Limited


Stone Fabricator
Alabastros Aragoneses

Stone Installer/Mason




Area of Stone Used


34,000 sf honed Alabaster ramps

7,200 sf gross floor area, an average of 2 ft high columns of Basalt (14,400 cf)

15,800 sf of flamed Basalt walls (interior)

4,800 sf of Basalt pavers

160,000 sf of split-face Tyndal limestone (interior/exterior)


138,000 sf including interior/exterior random length course ashlar

+22,000 sf various custom cut stone items such as pavers, window sills and lintels, soffits, copings etc.

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