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October 11, 2001 Science complex will bring scientists together



A construction worker at Loyola.

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Architect's rendering of the science complex

An architectural drawing of the new complex.

by Barbara Black

Robert Roy, Vice-Dean of Planning for the Faculty of Arts and Science, is excited by the prospect of housing all of the Faculty’s science departments under one roof.

“Increasingly, the trend in science is towards multidisciplinary research, and you find people working together around themes,” he said. “The chemists are talking to the biologists, and the biologists are talking to the psychologists. And of course, everybody wants to talk to the people in genomics.”

Currently, most of Concordia’s science departments and research centres are divided among the downtown Hall Building, which opened in 1965, and Loyola’s aging Drummond Science Building, which was built in 1961.

The new Science Complex, set to be fully operational by September 2003, will house the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Exercise Science, Physics and a major component of Psychology, as well as the Science College, the Centre for Structural and Functional Genomics, the Centre for Studies in Behavioural Neurobiology and several smaller research centers and support facilities.

Rising five storeys above ground with two basement levels, the complex will cover 33,000 square metres, roughly half the size of the Hall Building. It will also usher in a new era for sciences at the university, with spacious corridors, plenty of offices and modern laboratories designed and equipped to meet the needs of science instruction and research in the 21st century, Roy said.

“When our current science buildings were built more than 35 years ago, they were designed with a heavy orientation towards teaching and only a minor orientation towards research, and the balance at Concordia has basically reversed since then.” He joined the Department of Biology in 1970.

“The general trend in science teaching has been to move from what tended to be descriptive study to more emphasis on experimental work, which requires specialized facilities and increasingly sophisticated equipment.”

The new complex is also being designed with the latest security features in mind. A series of service corridors will run along the back of each laboratory and link directly to the freight elevator, enabling researchers and technicians to transport chemicals and biological materials away from public corridors.

The availability of offices for all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers will also contribute to the safety of the building, Roy said, pointing out that it will reduce congestion in laboratories. “We want people out of the labs when they are not doing research,” he said. “They should be doing their computer work and paperwork in offices.”

The Faculty has hired 105 full-time professors over the last four years, including 31 in the science disciplines, and there are plans to hire at least another 100 over the next four years. Roy, like the rest of Concordia’s scientists, is looking forward to welcoming them into a building suited to their needs.

“We have designed the Science Complex so that it includes a lot of lounge space and common rooms. We want people from different departments sitting together over a cup of coffee and talking to each other about their research.”

The original version of this article appeared in the September issue of Panorama, the Arts and Science newsletter.