By Alex Latus
It has been less than a year since CUBE, the University’s original chemical engineering building, was demolished after more than 60 years of operation. The neighbouring MacDonald Hall, which previously housed the Department of Physics, followed a few months later.
Last December, after federal and provincial funding was announced, ground was broken on a new “discovery district” to replace the two buildings. The district’s state-of-the-art STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Hall will house open-concept teaching labs and 3D-printing Makerspaces, while encouraging new thinking through experiential learning and entrepreneurship.
Just six months since the first concrete trucks began pouring its foundations, the now six-storey STEM Hall has just hit a major construction milestone, “topping off,” a term used in the construction industry to mark the completion of a building’s outer structure.
“Our discovery district is taking shape and it is wonderful to see the progress we’ve made in only six months. The cross-disciplinary environment we are building will help feed the curiosity that is the foundation of research and innovation, as we push boundaries and create new technologies,” said President Jacques Frémont.
STEM Hall will consolidate several departments from the faculties of Science and Engineering under one roof. At nearly 29,000 gross square metres, it will be the largest building on uOttawa’s main campus.
“As our students and faculty have watched the structure take form, the excitement on campus about the potential of this building is palpable,” said Sylvain Charbonneau, interim VP research. “By taking a multi-sector approach to research, uOttawa will inspire innovative startups, drive the transfer of new technologies and promote the translation of research into socio-economic benefits. Congratulations to all those involved in achieving this important milestone!”
In total, 27,150 m3 of concrete and 976.7 km of steel reinforcing bars, or rebar, have been used, the equivalent of 11 Olympic pools of concrete and enough rebar to extend from Ottawa to Charlottetown, PEI. The facility is also aiming for LEED sustainability certification, the international mark of excellence for green building, targeting at least a Silver rating.
With its frame assembled, construction will now focus on enclosing the building envelope so that work on the building’s interior can begin.
With just six months between the pouring of the foundation and the topping off, the speed at which the STEM facility is being constructed is nothing short of remarkable, a testament to the skill, coordination and teamwork of all involved.
“We aren’t just building a major facility — we’re building something that will define the University of Ottawa for generations to come,” said Frémont.
STEM Hall will be open for the 2018 fall term.