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Aerial View of Steel Framework Assembly for the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, January 2005
Creator: Brian Boyle
Date of Image: January 2005
Other Media: Podcast: Dawn of the Crystal Age
ROM Links: Michael Lee-Chin Crystal
Museum ID Number: ROM2005_1478_2
Image Number: ROM2005_1478_2

Here one can see the initial stages of the installation of the steel structure of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Due to the confined size of the construction site, materials for the steel structure could not arrive all at once. The steel beams, each unique and ranging from 1 to 25 metres in length, arrived in shipments of about 25 tonnes and were typically onsite for only a day prior to their installation. Construction workers and project engineers used laptops and 3-D illustrations to visualize how the steel shapes fit together. An 80-metre crane, erected at the centre of the site, lifted the beams, one by one, to a specific angle, with a three- or four -millimetre tolerance creating the complicated angle joints, sloped walls, and gallery ceilings, some that rise to almost 40 metres.

From the base of the Lee-Chin Crystal eight metres below grade, the first visible shape to take form was the J.F. Driscoll Family Gallery of the Stair of Wonders, seen in this image. Over the next two years, the framework rose in numerous angles, reaching its highest peak at 36.5 metres. Approximately 2,800 tonnes of steel, 3,000 steel pieces, 38 tonnes of bolts, and 9,000 cubic metres of concrete were used to complete the structure. During peak construction periods, around 150 steel and construction workers were onsite, up to 30 working on the steel structure.

The steel structure was completed on July 12, 2005, when the final beam was hoisted into position at a height of about 21 metres (70 feet), directly over the main entrance to the Lee-Chin Crystal on Bloor Street West.

The Lee-Chin Crystal is part of Renaissance ROM, the Museum’s renovation and expansion project. The building is considered to be one of the most challenging construction projects in North America due to its engineering complexity and innovative construction methods.

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