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Stantec says thanks with gift to University of Lethbridge

By | Community, Construction | No Comments

The University of Lethbridge was given a glimpse into the near future recently thanks to Stantec Architecture.

Dr. Mike Mahon with Stantec’s Mark Bellamy, Michael Moxam and Justin Saly with Dr. Andrew Hakin .

University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon accepted a framed rendering of the new science and academic building from Stantec Architecture on the University’s behalf, along with Vice-Provost and VP Academic, Dr. Andrew Hakin and VP Finance and Administration, Nancy Walker (BMgt ’82). The rendering of the Destination Project will hang in the University’s offices and is an exciting reminder of the world-class facility that is currently under construction on campus.

The future hub of science in southern Alberta has already created buzz near and far with its sustainable design and focus on fostering collaboration between faculties, regardless of discipline. The Destination Project is scheduled to open for classes in the fall of 2019.

Eye-popping donation epitomizes science on display

By | Community, Science on Display | No Comments

In celebration of National Periodic Table day, the University of Lethbridge is pleased to announce a donation of a special kind for the Destination Project. A group of former staff and faculty members and current faculty members has generously donated a periodic table to be displayed in the new science and academic building.

Dr. Peter Dibble, Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, says the addition of a periodic table of the calibre that is being donated will really put science on display for southern Alberta.

The new periodic table will be an interactive focal point of the science and academic building.

“I know of other institutions that have these tables and they are magnets to members of the public because they are so interesting and beautiful to look at,” says Dibble. “I think this display will become a regular stop for elementary and high school classes and I intend to develop programs, such as element days, that will feed into such visits and offer members of the public and students to learn about specific elements, how they are used and why they are so important.”

For retired faculty member, Dr. Douglas Dolman, seeing the progress of the new science and academic building has been quite thrilling. Dolman and his wife Theresa met at the University and both worked for a number of years in the sciences. Dolman says they’re looking forward to seeing how their donation and the new building will inspire the future scientists in the area.

“The new science and academic building will be such a wonderful investment for the future of science in southern Alberta. I hope that by seeing the many extraordinary elements on display in the periodic table, it sparks something special in the young minds of those who visit the building,” says Douglas Dolman.

The periodic table is quite a unique piece of science within itself. Some elements can be made to be interactive and while it’s sized at three meters (10 feet) across and 1.8 meters (6 feet) in height, they make an impressive feature in any science building.

The periodic table contains museum-grade samples of the elements themselves that are individually illuminated in cubes. The elements in the periodic table are shown with examples of how it is used in everyday life as well as some cubes having the ability to be interactive too.

For Dibble, he believes that there is something special in the moment when you first lay your eyes on exactly what an element looks and feels like. Dibble says the feeling ignited by seeing this piece of science is perhaps best summarized by British neurologist, naturalist and author Oliver Sacks.

“In this first, sensuous glance, I saw the table as a gorgeous banquet, a huge table set with eighty-odd different dishes.” (Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sachs, Alfred A Knopf, Toronto, 2001)


The donations to date will go towards the purchase of the periodic table. If you’re interested in supporting this project, please contact University Advancement at 403-329-2582.

Building hope; Destination Project gives big this holiday season

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Between the holiday parties, gift giving and joy of the season, it can be hard to remember there are people who struggle just to put dinner on the table each night. With food bank supply levels down across the province and demand sky-rocketing, the staff and contractors working on the Destination Project have done their part to ensure those in need will have a full tummy and pantry this Christmas.

PCL Construction Management Ltd.’s field office manager, Anna Slater, led a campaign to collect donations for both the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union (ULSU) food bank and three local families.

“We adopted three local families who needed a little extra help this Christmas along with making a cash and food donation to the ULSU,” says Slater. “We were so overwhelmed with the response that not only U of L Destination Project staff and PCL staff made, but our trade contractors too.”

Just a portion of what was received as donations for the ULSU and the Christmas Hope program.

Just a portion of what was received as donations for the ULSU and the Christmas Hope program.

Working with the local giving initiative, Christmas Hope, which is a program developed between the Interfaith Food Bank, the Lethbridge Food Bank and the Salvation Army, is something that has brought the Destination Project team closer together this holiday season says Project Director, Brian Sullivan.

“I feel so fortunate to have a great job and sadly there are many who aren’t in the same position right now,” says Sullivan. “That’s a sentiment that is clearly shared on this project as our trades, contractors and staff gave so generously. It’s a wonderful way to come together as group and give back to the community and U of L students.”

Interfaith Food Bank executive director, Danielle McIntyre says it’s the efforts of people like those on the Destination Project who are giving a little joy to those in need this holiday season.

“We love it when local businesses and organizations step-up because it inspires not only their employees, but their customers and general community too,” says McIntyre. “Local businesses do so much to bring in resources for us, especially this time of year.”

As for the bounty that was delivered to the ULSU, Students’ Union president, Cameron Howey, was blown away by the showing of generosity.

Donations came from U of L Destination Project staff, PCL Construction Ltd. staff and trades working on the new science and academic building.

Donations came from U of L Destination Project staff, PCL Construction Ltd. staff and trades working on the new science and academic building.

“What an amazing contribution to helping students in need,” says Howey. “This donation shows that the people involved with the Destination Project are not only invested in the building, but also invested in bettering the student experience. On behalf of University of Lethbridge students, thank you. You’ve made this holiday season that much brighter for those in need.”

BMO donates $1 million to fund construction of new state-of-the-art science building

By | Community, Construction, Economic Impact | No Comments

The University of Lethbridge (U of L) today announced that BMO Financial Group has joined the University’s Destination Project through a $1 million philanthropic donation for construction of a new Science and Academic Building at its Lethbridge campus.

The Destination Project is the boldest and most significant development for the University since the construction of the original University Hall. The new facilities will bring together faculty and students from across science disciplines, promote and enable curricular innovation, help students achieve their academic goals and foster a community of science at the U of L and across southern Alberta.

The new Academic and Science Building’s showcase theatre will carry a BMO Financial name.

The new Academic and Science Building’s showcase theatre will carry a BMO Financial name.

The theatre, which will carry the name of BMO Financial Group, will serve as a key space for housing science outreach activities.

“We are very appreciative of BMO Financial Group for joining us in the creation of this transformational project and helping us shape the future of the University of Lethbridge,” says U of L President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon. “Our relationship with BMO encompasses a number of initiatives and this gift extends their history of supporting both the University and the southern Alberta community.”

“We are very pleased to partner with U of L on the Destination Project, one that will undoubtedly enhance the University and experience of students in the community for years to come,” says Susan Brown, Senior Vice-President, Alberta and North West Territories Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. “We have a longstanding relationship with the school and remain committed to investing in programs that will help the advancement of future leaders in the field of science.”

Knowledge sharing is a key component of the Destination Project, between professors and students as well as to the broader southern Alberta community. The BMO Financial Group sponsored theatre will serve as a key space for housing science outreach activities.

“The Destination Project is designed to engage the community. Science shouldn’t exist behind closed doors,” says Dr. Ute Kothe, supervisor of the University’s Let’s Talk science program and a researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “It’s our obligation to enable a hands-on approach to learning that will ignite a greater curiosity for science in adults and children.”


U of L President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon (Right) pictured with BMO Financial Group representatives including Susan Brown, Senior Vice-President, Alberta and North West Territories Division (Left).

In under 50 years, the U of L has evolved from an idea to one of Canada’s top-ranked universities and leading research institutions. Building on these past accomplishments, the Destination Project is the next step forward – helping shape the future of science and teaching for the next 50 years.

“These facilities will give us the research capacity for the future of this institution,” says Dr. Craig Cooper, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. “We are thrilled that BMO Financial Group has recognized the potential of this development and what it will mean to the University, our region, province and country for years to come.”

A tale of two cranes

By | Construction | No Comments

After a few months of doing all of the heavy lifting, Big Yeller, the tower crane onsite at the Destination Project, has received a helping hand, or jib, to be more accurate.

Little Yeller, the second tower crane, is now assembled and working away to ensure that every inch of the new science and academic building site is able to be reached. Standing slightly shorter than his larger compatriot, Little Yeller stands at around 165 feet and has almost the same lifting capacity.

Together, these two enormous pieces of machinery are pushing forward the progress on the Destination Project but they don’t do it alone. Someone has to push the buttons and pull the levers, a position Kerry Swift has been sitting high above ground in for more than 25 years.

“It takes around 10 to 15 minutes to climb up to the cabin. Going up around 200 feet gets your heart going in the morning that’s for sure,” says Swift. “The trick in the winter is not get too much of a sweat worked up because as soon as you get inside the cabin, the whole thing fogs up and then you’ve got to wait before you can get working.”

For people that work on the ground, the idea of having your office way up in the sky can seem kind of thrilling or terrifying depending on your comfort level with heights. But for Swift, it’s just the everyday humdrum of his career.

“Getting to be up so high and see out over the landscape was a real adrenaline rush when I first started, but now it’s just where my desk is,” Swift laughed.

You can see Swift and Big Yeller working on the construction site by viewing the live view cameras on the Destination Project’s website.


Boots on the ground; Destination Project powers ahead

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As the winter months quickly approach, work on the Destination Project is far from slowing down. University President, Dr. Mike Mahon, recently toured the construction site and says the progress is remarkable.

University President Dr. Mike Mahon gets an on-the-ground update on the progress of the Destination Project build.


“I toured the site in early September and in that short amount of time it has undergone incredible change,” says Mahon.

The progression of the build has been moving ahead thanks to the considered planning, management and work of PCL Construction Management and U of L staff. The Destination Project has a hardworking team of project managers and administrators based in the construction trailer office on site. Project Director Brian Sullivan says the team working on the science and academic building is one of the best he’s worked with to date.

“The Destination Project is the biggest construction project this campus has seen, with the exception of the original University Hall building. There are so many moving pieces that go into a project of this size and having a team that works well under that type of stress is absolutely essential. Better yet is that we still manage to have a laugh in the process,” says Sullivan.

Board of Governors Chair, Kurt Schlachter (BSc ’00), says adding to the success of the build is the quality of local industry partners.

“Southern Alberta is home to some of the best trades and supply companies in the industry. Companies like D.A Electric Ltd., Reive Plumbing and Heating Ltd. and Maverick Concrete Ltd. are all based in our community and we’re able to directly inject significant dollars into the local economy by simply hiring the best in the business. It’s a win-win situation,” says Schlachter.

Board of Governors Chair, Kurt Schlachter (BSc ’00) listens as Project Director Brian Sullivan updates the group on the progress of construction.

Board of Governors Chair, Kurt Schlachter (BSc ’00) listens as Project Director Brian Sullivan updates the group on the progress of construction.


In addition to the construction industry adding to the smooth progression of the Destination Project, faculty input has been key in the planning and design stages of the new science and academic building. Mahon believes without the careful consideration and time from faculty and staff, the end result would be a mere shadow of what we will see with the final product.

“Having faculty input and opinion in the design stage was paramount to ensuring the Destination Project is a success not only for students and the southern Alberta community, but for our talented team of researchers and faculty,” says Mahon. “It will ensure our own people are equipped with the resources they need to power ahead in their research and make new and exciting discoveries right here at home.”

Dr. Janay Nugent (BA '95) and Students' Union President, Cameron Howey enjoy a tour of the Destination Project.

Dr. Janay Nugent (BA ’95) and Students’ Union President, Cameron Howey enjoy a tour of the Destination Project.


With the final concrete raft slab pour taking place in the coming weeks, the next significant milestone will be the addition of a second tower crane in mid-November. Take a tour from above the future home of science in southern Alberta by watching fly-over drone footage at

Destination Project powers ahead with ‘Big Yeller’

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The Destination Project site has welcomed a big, bright yellow buddy to do some seriously heavy lifting. The tower crane, nicknamed “Big Yeller” which stands over 200 ft tall, is owned by PCL Construction Management. PCL Superintendent, Daryl Campbell, says it took some careful forethought and manpower to get Big Yeller on site.

A Birdseye view of Big Yeller hard at work on the Destination Project site.

“The planning process for this crane took quite some time as there are a lot of moving pieces to organize when using this type of crane. Just to physically get the crane here took nine trucks which drove from Nisku, south of Edmonton,” says Campbell.

The tower crane is assembled in sections and stages and once it’s complete, Big Yeller has the lifting capacity of around 26,500 pounds when the load is closest to the mast. At the tip of the crane’s jib, the crane can lift around 10,800 pounds. This kind of lifting capacity will come in handy as the columns and concrete levels start to take shape.

Taking around two days to completely erect and have operational, the tower crane is built by a team of seven people. Not to mention the other crane which was needed to help construct it.

“The red, lifting crane that had been onsite to assist with the assembly of the tower crane has a lifting capacity of around 500 tons and there are very few in Western Canada,” says Campbell.

Apart from standing out on the campus landscape, another unique fact about Big Yeller is that the pad or base of the crane is actually built right into the raft slab of the building. This makes the bottom 8 ft. section of crane somewhat sacrificial. Once Big Yeller has completed its final duty, the crane will be broken down again and a welder will come to cut the base section down to the raft slab and then the final concrete slab will be poured right over the top.

Big Yeller will be joined by another tower crane mid-November, but it won’t stand quite as tall as it’s big brother. Watch Big Yeller do some seriously heavy lifting by checking out the live webcams at

Destination Project packs economic punch

By | Economic Impact | No Comments

As construction on the Destination Project continues to grow, so too are the dollars in the hands of local families and businesses. When PCL Construction Management Ltd. was awarded the contract to build the future science and academic building, many of PCL’s employees packed their bags and relocated to southern Alberta from their offices in Calgary and beyond. It’s a move that Tim Demler, superindendent for PCL Builders Inc., says has been nothing but incredibly refreshing.

“My wife and I have rented a local property and set ourselves up in a great spot on the south side of Lethbridge. There is a heavy sense of community, courtesy and strong work ethic throughout the city,” says Demler.

Community mindedness doesn’t stop there in Demler’s experience. PCL has also taken advantage of the expertise and inventory of local trades and suppliers.

“We have made a real effort to use local equipment, fuel and material suppliers at every turn,” says Demler. “This not only provides benefit to the project in time and cost, but it showcases the expertise of the construction and equipment specialists in this area. I can easily say that it has been a breath of fresh air to deal with all of our suppliers here.”

Another way the Destination Project has been boosting the southern Albertan economy is by satisfying the hunger of those working on the construction site. The Enmax Centre has recently opened an onsite cafeteria for the approximately 400 workers who are expected to be onsite by fall. City of Lethbridge food and beverage manager, Tania McMahon, says the project has allowed the city to pursue a new stream of revenue.

“Not only does this project provide local jobs and revenue for Lethbridge, but it allows workers to stay on site take advantage of healthier meal options,” says McMahon. “There have also been three full-time jobs and two part-time positions created, and as the project grows and the amount of contractors on site increases, food service positions will also increase.”

With grading on the site now complete, the structural work will start to take shape in the coming weeks. The change in the campus landscape is sure to generate an energy amongst those returning to the University as the fall semester approaches. Find out more about the Destination Project by clicking over to

The Destination Project; Building careers from cooperative education placements

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Building the cutting-edge home for future generations of scientists isn’t the only thing the Destination Project is helping to develop. Nicole Meurs (BMgt ’16) and student Nick Gabbin are two budding project managers who say their cooperative education placement with the Destination Project has helped build confidence and given them a glimpse into their future career paths with real-world experience.

Destination Project Program Director Brian Sullivan overlooks plans with Project Coordinator Nicole Meurs and cooperative education placement student, Nick Gabbin.


“Getting to see how your skills from the classroom transition into the workplace is something I am so thankful I had the opportunity to experience. My placement allowed me to take on real responsibilities for the project, but I also felt supported by the entire project team because I was working and learning in a teaching environment too,” says Meurs.

When Meurs’ cooperative education placement came to an end in December, Destination Program Manager, Brian Sullivan hired her as a full-time project coordinator for the term of the build, something Sullivan says was a great thrill for him and the rest of the project team.

“When you see students grow and develop their skills throughout their placement, it brings a real sense of pride and joy because you’ve helped them along on their career path and it’s always nice when you can offer them their first job too,” smiles Sullivan.

For Gabbin, his placement will finish up in December and he is hopeful to also earn a spot on the Destination Project team. Gabbin says the experience he’s gained working in a cooperative education placement is invaluable and something he’d never expected to get as a 23-year-old student.

“Being able to experience responsibility on a job as big as this is just incredible and not just in terms of the work. Learning how to manage relationships and communicate with a team under the leadership of folks like Brian who have been at this for years is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Gabbin.

Sullivan believes the students he’s hired over his 30 years at the U of L have all showed a dedication to their placement positions and attributes their success to how their ability to think independently and have the responsibility to get the job done.

“A co-op placement teaches you how to be part of a team and how to transition from student to worker. It’s a unique opportunity that we’re able to offer and for those that get to work on this job in particular, it’s especially unique,” says Sullivan.

With construction ramping up as the Fall semester approaches, both Meurs and Gabbin are excited to see how their peers will engage with the rapidly changing landscape on campus and the possibilities it will allow for future co-op students.

“Markin Hall was my home while I was a management student and I can’t imagine what my education would have looked like without it so by working on this project, I am just giving back to future students who are going to make amazing discoveries in the building I helped to construct,” said Meurs.

You can watch the construction of the Destination Project come together before your eyes thanks in part to the efforts of Gabbin. His first task working on the Destination Project was to set up live web cameras that continuously stream. Be sure to check out the progression of the build at