Manitoba Historical Society
Patron, The Honourable John Harvard, P.C., O.M. Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba
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History of
Jews in


Annual Report

Time Lines
May/Jun 2009


No. 60



Diaries of a
Art Collection

Lord Selkirk

tours in


in 1911

Did you know?
MHS is the second-oldest historical society in Canada.

Dalnavert Visitors Centre

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Project background | A "green" project | New programming | Construction news


In 1895, architect Charles H. Wheeler designed Dalnavert to embody Victorian values and all the "cutting edge" technologies of that time: central heat, indoor plumbing, telephone, electric lights, and walk-in closets.

The new Visitors Centre will continue this legacy with 21st century technology that enables it to be certified under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) protocol as a "green" building. Adoption of the inter-national LEED system by the construction industry is increasing with awareness of the associated financial and environmental benefits. The Dalnavert Visitors Centre would be only the second building in Manitoba to seek this designation and, to our knowledge, the only "green" National Historic Site in Canada. Along with its close proximity to public transportation, which minimizes air pollution and maximizes fuel use efficiency, the Centre will achieve LEED designation by:

  • minimizing construction wastes
  • using recycled construction materials
  • using locally manufactured construction materials that minimize transportation costs
  • using equipment and fixtures that minimize water and energy consumption
  • having highly insulated walls and ceilings
  • using low volatility paints, carpeting and wood to maximize indoor air quality
  • using natural light, where possible, for indoor illumination
  • using geothermal energy for heating and cooling
  • using stored rainwater for lawn watering
  • monitoring the ongoing performance of heating and cooling systems

What is deconstruction?

The curved design of the Visitors Centre, an enlarged Victorian garden on the south side of the site, and improved lighting in Gertie Macdonald's original solarium are all made possible by the removal of a 1940s-era brick residence next door. But the first phase of construction entails the deconstruction, not the demolition, of this building. The difference is subtle but important. Demolition usually consists of knocking down a building quickly and trucking away the tangled rubble. Deconstruction, on the other hand, takes account of the fact that buildings, even if uninhabitable, contain parts that are readily salvageable and useful. A building under deconstruction is taken apart carefully so its parts can be used again. Winnipeg's Mountain Equipment Co-op building, for example, was built using 97% of the parts from three buildings that had occupied its site. In our case, bricks from the building next door will contribute to the new Centre's exterior. Parts that cannot be used will be sold, providing funds for the purchase of other needed materials. In this way, a building that might be viewed as a liability is turned to an asset, and the quantity of materials ending up in landfills is minimized. And perhaps best of all, deconstruction is consistent with the heritage community's mandate. After all, isn't heritage about the conservation of resources?

Related links

Canada Green Building Council

US Green Building Council

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