The look and scope of scientific discovery are set to be transformed in the fall of 2019 as the University of Lethbridge opens the new science and academic building. One of the most advanced facilities for teaching and researching the sciences in the country, the new addition to the Lethbridge campus is the largest construction project to take place since University Hall was completed in 1971. Sustainably designed with local climate in mind, students, faculty and community will come together under one roof to create, inquire and discover.
Now more than 50 per cent complete, the science and academic building has been under construction for nearly two action-packed years. The buzz of excitement in the campus community is building with every construction milestone achieved.
“Every time I have an opportunity to take a tour on the site, I’m astounded with the progress being made,” says Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Andy Hakin. “We can now see some of the large design elements starting to take shape. From the atrium staircase to the glass curtain wall on the exterior of the building, it’s exciting to see our project come to life. This building will be of enormous benefit to so many aspects of our University life and to the extended community.”
A home for innovation and discovery, one of the major design principles was to encourage and foster research between the sciences. The open and flexible laboratory environments allow this to become a reality. Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy Dr. Dan Furgason says with this new way of working and learning, the opportunities for transdisciplinary collaborations and ideas will flourish and give students and faculty innovative ways to problem solve with more resources available than ever before.
“During my 30-plus years with the University, I have witnessed several changes and improvements in teaching and research,” says Furgason. “Students have always played an integral role in scientific research at the U of L and that role has been an important facet in student education. Over the years, the students have changed, the research environment has changed and now the facilities are about to change. It is truly exciting to contemplate the possibilities moving forward into the new building. As we build the culture to complement the new environment, I am certain students, researchers and the community at large will experience new and engaging modes of learning and investigation.”
It’s not just U of L students who will benefit from this leading centre for science and academics; students of all ages will join them in discovery. Elementary and high school students from around southern Alberta will have a home for innovation. Science outreach programs are expanding in a dedicated learning facility aimed at igniting the spark of science in the researchers of tomorrow.
Community outreach programs like Destination Exploration and Let’s Talk Science enable southern Alberta to develop individuals who are creative and innovative discoverers, leaders and independent learners, who are well prepared to contribute significantly to their local, national and global communities, right here at home.
“When children experience science in a new way, you open the door for a whole new world of discovery and excitement for them,” says Director of Youth Outreach Valerie Archibald. “With the dedicated outreach space in the new science and academic building, we can run more programming throughout the year that enables more children to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.”
As the new science and academic building grows, so too do the economic benefits to southern Alberta. With more than 350 workers currently on-site and that number expected to climb between 450 and 500 during peak construction periods, the project has not only brought jobs to the area but a welcome economic injection for local businesses. Additionally, the building, once operational, will contribute significantly to the overall impact the University of Lethbridge has on the city and region.