Located in downtown Edmonton’s Arts and Entertainment District, north of City Hall, the new Royal Alberta Museum is the largest museum in western Canada. Greeting approximately 400,000 visitors annually, the RAM’s 419,000-square-foot building houses 2.5 million items in its collection, as featured in more than 82,000 square feet of exhibits on human and natural history. Reflecting its focus on people and the environment, the fully accessible museum earned LEED Gold certification through the Canada Green Building Council.

Designed by DIALOG Design with Ledcor Design-Build, museum planning consultant Lundholm Associates and acoustical engineers FFA Consultants, Baytek Interiors provided design-assist services on the RAM’s interior walls and ceilings. To meet the project’s numerous aesthetic, performance and sustainability goals, Baytek recommended multiple ceiling systems from Rockfon’s complete portfolio of acoustic stone wool and metal ceiling panels, suspension systems and perimeter trim.

DIALOG described the design concept as emanating “from a deep understanding of the Royal Alberta Museum, the province and the site. The architecture gives primacy to the stories and the objects of the museum. The engineering responds to this vision, creating a museum that is sustainable, contributes to a vibrant downtown, is well designed and fully accessible. It is a place to explore and connect – to Alberta, to ideas, to people.

“The museum is a hive of activity researching, inspecting, restoring, preserving and displaying, which presents a variety of environmental conditions to design for,” DIALOG added about implementing the vision.

Once the final design and materials were approved, Baytek carried through with installation of Rockfon’s ceiling systems and completed construction on the museum’s interiors. The RAM and its design-build team took advantage of every space within the building, not just the galleries. Display cases are even located in washroom entries.

Rockfon’s acoustic stone wool and metal ceiling panels showcase a modern appearance that complements the museum’s design without distracting from its exhibitions. The white surface of Rockfon Alaska, Artic, Medical Plus and Sonar reflect up to 86 percent of light for a comfortable, diffused illumination that minimizes glare on the framed artworks. Reflecting less than 0.05 percent of light, Rockfon Color-all charcoal and Industrial black panels also were installed in selected exhibit spaces for a more immersive, dramatic effect.

In addition to enhancing the RAM’s visual experience, Rockfon’s products optimize the acoustics within the museum. Acoustic comfort is recognized by LEED as part of its Indoor Environmental Quality criteria. Rockfon Industrial black panels deliver exceptional sound absorption, with a noise reduction coefficient of 1.05.

Rockfon Royal Alberta Museum Picture 2

Photo courtesy of Tom Arban Photography Inc. via Rockfon

Contrasting in color but not performance, Rockfon Sonar’s white ceiling panels also provide excellent sound absorption, with a 0.95 NRC. For improved acoustics and visual variety in the exhibit hall, Rockfon Planostile snap-in metal ceiling panels were perforated, and an insulating Acoutex backer was added to achieve up to a 0.90 NRC.

Contributing to the RAM’s climate-controlled environment for its artwork, Rockfon Medical Plus offers outstanding performance for air cleanliness and complies with clean room ISO Class 4 standards. The stone wool material does not support the growth of microorganisms and has been tested to meet microbiological class M1 Zone 4 (very high risk) requirements. These ceiling panels demonstrate enhanced durability, dirt resistance and effective disinfection without the use of added chemicals.

Further supporting EQ considerations and indoor air quality, all of Rockfon’s stone wool products are UL GREENGUARD Gold certified for low emissions in office and educational environments. UL Certified Environmental Product Declarations, Health Product Declarations and Declare Labels also are available for Rockfon’s products.

Rockfon Royal Alberta Museum Picture 3

Photo courtesy of Tom Arban Photography Inc. via Rockfon

EPDs, HPDs and Declare Labels assist design professionals in making informed product choices, with respect to the health and well-being of building owners and occupants. Material transparency, ingredient reporting and documentation also may contribute to attaining LEED credits.

All of Rockfon’s products specified for the RAM were manufactured with recycled content. Stone wool is sourced from naturally abundant basalt rock and combined with recycled materials to produce the ceiling panels. The metal ceiling panels, perimeter trim and suspension systems are 100 percent locally recyclable at the end of their lifespan in the museum.

Rockfon Royal Alberta Museum Picture 4

Photo courtesy of Tom Arban Photography Inc. via Rockfon

The RAM’s building is designed for a 100-year service life, ensuring that it will be a part of the community for generations to come. Along with long-lasting, low-emitting products made with recycled materials, the museum’s additional LEED and sustainable design strategies included: access to public transportation and bicycle storage, locally adapted landscaping, low-flow plumbing fixtures, energy-efficient HVAC systems, building envelopes enhanced for thermal performance, and LED lighting and occupancy sensors paired with high-performance glazing to maximize daylighting.

“The new museum’s impressive LEED Gold certification is a testament to the close collaboration between all design disciplines, the client and contractors,” DIALOG said, praising the teamwork’s successful result.

Honoring its achievement, the RAM and its design-build team earned the Canadian Design Build Institute’s Design Build Award for Buildings, the Canadian Consulting Engineering’s Award of Excellence in the Buildings category and the Canada Green Building Council’s Alberta Chapter’s Excellence in Green Building for New Construction.

Photo courtesy of Tom Arban Photography Inc. via Rockfon

“The design has an engaging sense of place and responds to the architecture and spirit of Edmonton and Alberta,” the RAM said. “It features a continuous narrative, a dialogue between inside and out, between the city, the building and nature. The Royal Alberta Museum is bright, warm and welcoming, inviting visitors to come in and discover Alberta in a dynamic new way.”

“From a public perspective, this building is striking – soaring, light-filled atriums balanced with intimate exhibit spaces that allow our collections to shine,” added Chris Robinson, the RAM’s former executive director. “But what the public doesn’t necessarily see is its functionality. This building provides us with the right conditions and tools to conserve the millions of objects held in our care.”

Apart from the staff areas for research, restoration, preservation, display creation and administration, visitors to the RAM can explore the Natural History Hall, the Human History Hall, a living Bug Gallery, an interactive Children’s Gallery and a state-of-the-art feature gallery for international exhibitions, as well as the theater, classrooms, museum shop, café, spacious lobby and outdoor gardens.