by Robert Scalia
will house nearly 800 rooms, including more than 250 offices and 330 research
and teaching rooms. These will be distributed over five floors, two basement
levels and will occupy about 20,000 square metres of the buildings
gross 33,000 square metres of space.
Bob Roy can rattle off every possible dimension and specification for
Concordias new $85-million Science Complex, but as he hovers over
a maquette in an office littered with colour-coded floor plans, it is
his imaginative analogies that make the building come alive. Dr. Roy is
Vice-Dean of Planning for the Faculty of Arts and Science.
Its more like a battleship than an office building,
he explained, alluding to the buildings integration of heavy machinery,
potentially hazardous materials and state-of-the-art research labs.
Theres the service corridor system in the north wing, for example
what Roy casually refers to as the back alley. Running
along the back of every lab, this hallway will allow researchers and technicians
to transport and temporarily store chemicals and keep expensive lab equipment
The main ventilation, plumbing and electrical systems will run through
this main service spine, a concept presently used in a number
of recent science buildings, including that of pharmaceutical giant Merck
The buildings 220 fume hoods will also converge through this corridor.
These exhaust hoods and canopies will continually remove the laboratories
air and replace it with fresh air as often as 10 to 20 times an hour,
Why is this necessary? You wouldnt want to fill up your car
in a garage. Thats why gas pumps are outside, he explained.
By the same token, lab work usually involves alcohols and solvents that
can either explode or become toxic if the fumes are not constantly diluted.
You have to bring the outside indoors, if you like.
Thats no small feat. In fact, Roy insists that science buildings
consume vast amounts of energy everything from powering heavy machinery
to running freezers that chill to 100 C to maintaining set climatic
conditions in the various greenhouses, controlled environment rooms and
This kind of building is an energy hog, he said flatly, pointing
out that the 1,250-kilowatt emergency auxiliary generator alone could
power a small town. Engineers were forced to design a new electrical substation
on campus, because there simply wasnt enough power.
Just one typical research lab consumes more energy than an average
house over a year, Roy said. We will have hundreds of labs.
Its a great challenge to make it a green building.
Unlike the Hall Building, where most of Concordias science teaching
and research is now done, this new complex comes equipped with a variable
air volume computerized central ventilation system. Aided by motion sensors
and presence detectors, the system will know whether or not
individual labs are in use and, therefore, what level of ventilation is
Ill also be able to check and see if students are doing their
lab work or not, he added jokingly.
Furnishing most of the offices and labs with windows to provide natural
light will cut down the electricity bill; virtually all the offices and
labs have windows.
Normally, Roy explained, having more windows would actually drive up energy
costs, particularly when trying to air-condition such a building, but
thats where the aluminum louvers come in.
Much like horizontal blinds fitted outside the windows, these planed louvers
will block most of the unwanted sunlight and the resulting heat, while
preserving natural light and external views. Roy insists that these and
various other measures will cut energy consumption by as much as 25 per
cent. In addition, the energy costs for the Hall Building, which was not
built for modern science facilities, will be drastically cut back when
science moves out.
Concordias mixed-function (teaching and research) complex
is already ranked among the largest new science buildings in North America,
in the top 20th percentile. It will house biology, chemistry, exercise
science, psychology, physics, the Science College, and the Centre for
Structural and Functional Genomics.
Tenders for the contractors and subcontractors to finish the building
will be opened (formally revealed in the presence of the bidders) on Jan.
16. If all goes according to plan, the Concordia Science Complex will
be fully operational by September 2003.