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Building for the future

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November 26, 2021

Memorial University officially opened the spectacular Central Science Facility today, as federal, provincial and university officials celebrated the construction of this sophisticated research and education building.

“The new base science facility is truly transformative for Memorial University – and the community at large,” said Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor of Memorial. “It is a catalyst for collaboration and new discovery, a rich on-campus learning environment for students and a focal point for the St. John’s campus. We owe a debt of gratitude to former President Gary Kachanoski for his visionary leadership which has led to this new facility.

Dr. Vianne Timmons was accompanied during the official opening by the Lieutenant Governor. Judy Foote, also official visitor to Memorial; Seamus O’Regan, Jr., Minister of Labor and Member of Parliament for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, on behalf of Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; Joanne Thompson, MP, St. John’s East; Premier Andrew Furey; and Tom Osborne, Minister of Education.

The blue whale skeleton hangs in the west atrium of the Core Science Facility.

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“Memorial University is unlike any university in the country. It nurtures the economic, social and cultural life of the province, ”said Minister O’Regan, Jr.“ The Core Science Facility builds on a long history of visionary investment in this institution and will serve as a pillar for the science education in Newfoundland and Labrador for years to come. The Government of Canada is pleased to support this project, which offers Memorial University students, researchers and faculty new opportunities for research, collaboration and innovation.

Ms. Thompson, who represents the district in which the St. John’s campus is located, congratulated everyone who helped create the building.

“With the Core Science Facility, students, researchers and faculty have access to a world-class building that meets their educational needs and will be an environment that inspires bold learning, engagement and innovation,” he said. she declared.

Premier Furey highlighted the long-term impacts of a facility that prioritizes interdisciplinary collaboration.

“This basic science facility will be a centerpiece as Memorial recruits both at home and abroad,” he said. “The students who pass through this facility will bring about significant change over the next several decades, in this province and around the world. The work done here will lead to exciting opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador for students and researchers, help attract and retain highly qualified personnel in pure and applied sciences, ocean sciences and sustainable aquaculture, and stimulate our economy.

Minister Osborne agreed, saying “Memorial’s Basic Science Facility will provide world-class educational opportunities to the people of the province. The facility creates an environment for inspired learning, research and innovation that will help shape the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.

A night view of the building, looking north.  The whale's atrium is illuminated so that the skeleton is clearly visible.
A night view of the building, looking north.

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The overall budget for the Core Science Facility project is $ 325 million. Memorial contributed $ 200 million: $ 25 million from the Memorial University Matching Fund and $ 175 million from a loan program. The Government of Canada, through its New Building Canada Fund, has provided support of $ 99.9 million, with the remaining $ 25.1 million coming from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Designed by HOK and Hearn / Fougere Architecture, the building was inspired by the natural features of the province, especially icebergs. The main construction contract was carried out by Marco Services Limited.

The project was carried out within budget. The building is a national investment that generated construction spending in several provinces, the majority of which was made by businesses and workers from Newfoundland and Labrador. Almost two million man hours were spent on the construction of the building.

The building has three pavilions separated by two large vertical spaces of atriums, which focus on the exhibition of science, highlighted by a ground floor designed to be transparent. A large hall on the north side serves as the main entrance hall and the building is connected to the University Center

Students are seated in a row of tables between the stairs in a triple-height atrium.
Students use the study space in the Core Science Facility.

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Mainly housing the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Basic Science Facility was opened to students in September 2021. Already, more than 3,000 undergraduates and hundreds of graduate students are using the building every week for laboratories and seminars.

The facility includes Core Research Equipment and Instrument Training Network laboratories, a cryogenics facility, and an aquatic facility. Space is also allocated to the Ocean Frontier Institute, an international and multidisciplinary research partnership led by Memorial University, Dalhousie University and the University of Prince Edward Island.

The building is also home to a magnificent blue whale skeleton, spanning over 25 meters across the building’s western atrium, made possible by a donation from Mark and Sandra Dobbin, and Craig and Lisa Dobbin, in honor of their late mother, Eleanor “Penney” Dobbin. The whale is believed to inspire the next generation of scientists and researchers, reflect Memorial’s ocean expertise, and underscore the importance of protecting animals and their ecosystems.

Memorial’s strategic plan, Transforming Our Horizons, provides for dynamic in-person learning spaces, increased interdisciplinary collaboration and research, and a commitment to communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Core Science Facility will allow significant action in all the priority areas of the plan.

The community is welcome to the Core Science Facility and today’s event marks the start of a year of celebration and public engagement. There will be opportunities for former students and their families to visit; a contest to name the blue whale; whale and ocean themed events and activities; and more.

More information about the Core Science Facility is available online.