After three years of planning and construction, the impressive 45,000-square-foot, $15-million Materials Science Addition has opened in the Faculty of Science at The University of Western Ontario.
The student-centred facility houses state-of-the-art teaching laboratories for first-year chemistry and physics classes.
The glass-walled labs and facilities were designed with an open concept to provide transparency not only to visitors and the public, but also between the two closely related disciplines.
Science Dean David Wardlaw described the facility as “marvelous structure” and a “people-oriented place.”
“This will truly enhance the student lab experience for years to come,” he says.
The departments already see the benefits of the combined space. The transparent walls have broken down barriers between the two departments and it is fostering a more congenial environment for collaborative research and learning, adds Wardlaw.
“It’s enabled us to make some changes in the way we can teach our first-year students and enabled more collaboration between staff and faculties,” adds Physics and Astronomy Department Chair John de Bruyn.
When not in laboratories, students can visit a resource room – shared between chemistry and physics – to seek course assistance or simply enjoy lunch in the spacious, wi-fi equipped open areas.
Fred Longstaffe, Provost & Vice President (Academic), says he was often approached by faculty members requesting increased lab space when he was the dean of the Faculty of Science.
With further renovations on the horizon for the faculty, including to the Physics and Astronomy Building, Longstaffe says the Materials Science Addition points to the future direction of construction on campus as being “people-focused.”
“This is how we want to build buildings in the future,” says Longstaffe.
Other universities, including the University of Waterloo, have requested tours of the facility. The new addition, located between Chemistry and the Biotron, took three years to complete – from conception to full occupancy.