Collaboration gets a boost

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta has officially opened the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science, a state-of-the-art 50,000-square-metre facility specifically designed to foster an interdisciplinary approach to research, teaching and discovery.

The Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science provides more than 6,000 undergraduate science students with unprecedented access to laboratories and world-class professors through a design that promotes interdisciplinary science. The building pulls together five research groups in the same facility with scientists in the fields of nanostructures and new materials, integrated Earth landscape management, chemical biology and proteomics, planetary dynamics and resources geosciences, which will now be researching, innovating and discovering side-by-side.

“This is a new day for collaborative, scientific research and this is its new home,” said Gregory Taylor, dean of the Faculty of Science. “The Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science solidifies the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science as one of the top faculties of its kind in the country, if not the world.”

The new science building provides space for the increase in students and researchers resulting from a growth in the number of science programs. The Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science creates 2,200 new lecture theatre seats, 648 lab seats and 230 computing lab seats. There is also research space for 1,100 faculty and staff.

“Simply put, the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science marks an opportunity to take education and research to a new level in Alberta—to build scientific infrastructure that rivals the best in the world,” said University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera. “We’re opening this incredible facility because of transformative investments by the Government of Alberta and today is our opportunity to say thank you.”

The construction of the building is due in large part to a more-than $430-million investment by the Government of Alberta in 2006. “This project was one of the first post-secondary investments our government made after I became premier. It’s wonderful to see it come to fruition as a world-class research and teaching facility,” said Premier Ed Stelmach, who attended the official opening of the new building. “This is an investment in learning and in people, and I expect it will pay big dividends in future scientific discoveries that will happen here, in Alberta, but whose impacts will be felt around the globe.”

The building cost more than $465 million to construct and took four years to complete. Its open-air concept creates transparency, which defines both the philosophical underpinnings and architectural design of this building, according to its designers. Of special note is the fifth floor of the building, which features an observatory with three telescopes used for both research and to educate the community at large about science and the solar system.

Thirty per cent of the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science is below ground, limiting the building’s impact on green space on campus. The terrazzo floor, created by artist Scott Parsons, contains equations, symbols and icons from science disciplines taught in the centre. The centre is being considered for silver LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification as it was built to improve performance in energy savings, water efficiency and carbon-dioxide emission reduction and improved indoor environmental quality.