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This article was published 19/9/2014 (1850 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
While fundraisers and politicians got the applause Friday for opening the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the 8,200 workers who built it have their names written on plaques inside and the memory of their creation etched in their minds forever.
"It was definitely one of those projects where we needed to live it to get it done," said construction manager Rob Duerksen.
"It was a construction project on steroids," the engineer with PCL Constructors Canada Inc. said in an interview after the museum's official opening.
The mountain of 175,000 individually cut 400,000-year-old pieces of limestone, basalt and alabaster is surrounded by a glass cloud of 1,300 individually cut panes.
To help install the glass cloud, PCL built 60,000 square feet of vertical scaffolding. Once the scaffolding came down, there was no going back up to change things, he said.
'They were blown away. For once in my life, I was Cool Dad'— Museum construction manager Rob Duerksen on taking his teens for a tour
"You had to be constantly thinking ahead," said Duerksen.
Another challenge was safely escorting a steady stream of visitors through the construction site, he said.
One of those visitors was former prime minister Jean Chrétien, who surprised Duerksen while he was escorting the senior with a heart condition to the top.
"At the spiral stairway to the tower I asked him 'Are you OK with stairs?' " Chrétien didn't miss a beat, he said.
"He ran up three steps at a time — he beat me to the top."
That was one of the lighter moments near the end of the heavy-duty undertaking, said Duerksen. If the exterior of the building was a major challenge, the interior construction was no piece of cake, either.
"Some concrete walls were sloped, concave and tapered," he said. That required making and placing forms in a totally unique way, said Duerksen.
Architect Antoine Predock said Friday he originally made a clay sculpture — instead of computer drawings or models — of his design, and the museum today looks exactly as he imagined.
"The bones, the armature, completely intact from this small clay model," said Predock.
The 80 subtrades involved rose to the challenge, said Duerksen.
"The trades are alive and well in Canada," he said. "The stonework is just awesome."
Many of the 8,200 tradespeople, suppliers and workers were from Winnipeg, said Duerksen.
Their creation at The Forks is one that their descendants will point to for generations and say their great-grandfather or great-grandmother helped build it.
Duerksen's children will be able to say they got to go inside while it was being built.
In 2012, he took his teens for a tour.
"They were blown away," he said.
"For once in my life, I was Cool Dad."
— with file from Mary Agnes Welch
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.