October 2019

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OCTOBER 2019 | 43 Science Commons – University of Lethbridge EXTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID TROYER + INTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHY BY LATITUDE PHOTOGRAPHY/COURTESY PCL CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT INC. Science Commons – University of Lethbridge by ROBIN BRUNET T he September 13 grand opening of the University of Lethbridge's Science Commons was the culmination of one of the largest con- struction undertakings in the city's history, with the commons being called transformational for the University itself. The $280-million project was orig- inally planned to encompass three components: a new academic build- ing for a significant part of the science teaching and research activity on cam- pus; a new central and heating plant to serve the new infrastructure; and a comprehensive revitalization of the original Arthur Erickson-designed University Hall. KPMB Architects, which shared design duties with Stantec Architecture in a joint venture, remarks on its website that the Science Commons "is a critical component of a larger vision to diversify Alberta's economy into the knowledge and inno- vation industries." The 387,500-square-foot facility collocates the departments of biochem- istry, biological sciences, chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, and physics and astronomy. The building provides flexible teaching and research labs, academic classrooms, meeting rooms, gathering areas, and a central atrium. LEED Gold elements include a global ventilation system utilizing highly efficient heat and humidity recovery technologies and smart ven- tilation pathways. A responsive LED lighting system provides automatic dimming when natural light is avail- able, as well as motion sensors to prevent energy waste. The project gained momentum in 2013, after $12 million from the Alberta government enabled a signifi- cant amount of pre-planning to take place, including in-depth consultative work with user groups. Site selection was next undertaken, with geotechni- cal and massing studies conducted on five potential locations.

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