Diamond Schmitt Unveils Design of New Brunswick Museum

Diamond Schmitt Architects, with Associate Architect EXP, has announced the design of the New Brunswick Museum (NBM).

Rendering by PLAY-TIME, Courtesy of Diamond Schmitt

Diamond Schmitt Architects, with Associate Architect EXP, recently announced the design of the New Brunswick Museum (NBM), a new contemporary home for Canada’s oldest continuing museum.

The design, which leverages the historical site’s extraordinary topography in Saint John, captures views of both the urban center and Harbour of Saint John, as well as the natural landscape and river to the west.

When completed, the museum’s research work and exhibitions will be brought together within one sustainable, decarbonized facility that fully supports the museum’s mission of “preserving, researching, interpreting, and exhibiting the natural and cultural heritage of the Province of New Brunswick.”

Rendering by PLAY-TIME, Courtesy of Diamond Schmitt

“Taking inspiration from the museum’s original site—one of the great vantage points in Saint John—our design embraces the rich history of New Brunswick’s heritage and natural landscape,” said Donald Schmitt, principal at Diamond Schmitt. “This is a museum project for the past, present, and future of New Brunswick, prioritizing archives and conservation capabilities, major exhibition galleries, community and education spaces, and environmental sustainability through the use of mass timber and our goal of zero-carbon certification.”

The design by Diamond Schmitt integrates the east wing of the museum’s Collections and Research Centre on Douglas Avenue in Saint John, built in 1934 beside Riverview Memorial Park, while significantly expanding the museum’s footprint with five new wings to the north. The new museum totals 134,000 square feet.

Rendering by PLAY-TIME, Courtesy of Diamond Schmitt

A new, accessible main entrance on street level will greet visitors in a multi-story, public great room designed for museum visitors as well as community gatherings, festivals, events, and receptions. This public space will be supported by a boutique, café, ticketing services, and access to a public “Introduction to New Brunswick” gallery. Exhibition galleries on the second floor will overlook the great room.

The great room will serves as a crossroad for the museum, and connect the east entrance to an outdoor terrace to the west. It will also lead to a north-south galleria connected to education spaces. To the south, the façade of the historic wing will front a library and archival reading room, a 115-seat auditorium, and administrative spaces for the museum. The ground and basement floors will include expanded storage, conservation, and research spaces for the museum’s renowned collection.

Rendering by PLAY-TIME, Courtesy of Diamond Schmitt

The second floor will feature 30,000 square feet of exhibition space spanning the length of the building, and include six permanent galleries and a temporary gallery space. Open gathering spaces will crisscross the atrium from above, and add light and openness to the galleries. This level will also include floor-to-ceiling bay windows overlooking the water.

A new rooftop terrace will offer panoramic views in all directions, and create additional space for community gatherings.

Set above the river, the site provides expansive views across Marble Cove and the Saint John River to the wooded landscape in the distance. The west-facing façade will be arced in response to the landscape and curve of the river’s shoreline, and complemented by an outdoor terrace.

Rendering by PLAY-TIME, Courtesy of Diamond Schmitt

On the east, the site fronts historic Douglas Avenue, lined with 19th-century homes topped by “widow’s walks,” towers. These towers will enable visitors to view returning ships in the river’s harbour. The museum’s views to the east will look onto the harbour as well as Uptown Saint John.

The east façade is proportional to the portico and wings of the heritage building and contrast the historic limestone of the original façade.

With the exception of the heritage wing, the museum is considering the use of mass timber, a renewable resource that achieves low-carbon construction. The new building’s interior is characterized by wood finishes and stone tile, and natural light from large windows and skylights.

Rendering by PLAY-TIME, Courtesy of Diamond Schmitt

Diamond Schmitt is pursuing zero-carbon certification and will implement measures to decarbonize the building, such as adding insulation, triple glazed windows, electric boilers and air source heat pumps that increase heating and cooling efficiency.