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Building for the future

Core Science Facility officially opens

By Memorial University

Memorial University held the official opening of the spectacular Core Science Facility today as federal, provincial and university representatives celebrated the construction of this sophisticated research and teaching building.

“The new Core Science Facility is truly transformational for Memorial University – and the wider community,” said Dr. Vianne Timmons, president and vice-chancellor of Memorial. “It is a catalyst for collaboration and new discoveries, a rich on-campus learning environment for students and a focal point for the St. John’s campus. We owe a debt of gratitude to former President Gary Kachanoski for his visionary leadership that led to this new facility.”

Dr. Vianne Timmons was joined at the official opening by Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote, also the official visitor to Memorial; Seamus O’Regan, Jr., minister, Labour,  and member of Parliament, St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, on behalf of Dominic LeBlanc, minister, Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; Joanne Thompson, member of Parliament, St. John’s East; Premier Dr. Andrew Furey; and Tom Osborne, minister, Education.

A blue whale skeleton is suspended in an atrium of a large building. The sun shines through the bones near the skull.
The blue whale skeleton is suspended in the west atrium of the Core Science Facility.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“Memorial University is unlike any university in the country. It nourishes the economic, social and cultural life of the province,” said Minister O’Regan, Jr. “The Core Science Facility builds on a long history of visionary investment in this institution and will serve as a pillar for science education in Newfoundland and Labrador for years to come. The Government of Canada is thrilled to support this project that provides students, researchers and faculty at Memorial University new opportunities for research, collaboration and innovation.”

Ms. Thompson, who represents the district in which the St. John’s campus is located, congratulated all those involved in the creation of the building.

“With the Core Science Facility, students, researchers and faculty have access to a world-class building that caters to their educational needs and will be an environment that inspires bold learning, engagement and innovation,” she said.

Premier Furey noted the long-term impacts of a facility that prioritizes interdisciplinary collaboration.

“This Core Science Facility will be a centerpiece as Memorial recruits both domestically and internationally,” he said. “The students who come through this facility will bring about important change over the coming decades, in this province and around the world. The work done here will lead to exciting opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador for students and researchers, help attract and retain highly qualified personnel in pure and applied science, ocean science and sustainable aquaculture, and will grow our economy.”

Minister Osborne agreed, saying “Memorial’s Core Science Facility will provide world-class educational opportunities for the people of the province. The facility creates an environment for inspired learning, research and innovation that will help shape the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

A night time view of the building, looking north. The whale atrium is lit up so that the skeleton is very visible.
A night time view of the building, looking north.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The Core Science Facility’s global project budget is $325 million. Memorial contributed $200 million: $25 million from the Memorial University Matching Fund and $175 million from a borrowing program. The Government of Canada, through its New Building Canada Fund, provided support of $99.9 million with the remaining $25.1 million provided from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Designed by HOK and Hearn/Fougere Architecture, the building was inspired by the natural characteristics of the province, particularly icebergs. The main construction contract was completed by Marco Services Limited.

The project was completed on budget. The building is a national investment that generated construction spending in multiple provinces, the majority of which was performed by companies and workers from Newfoundland and Labrador. Almost twomillion tradesperson hours went into the building’s construction.

The building has three pavilions separated by two tall vertical atria spaces, which focus on putting science on display, highlighted by a ground floor that was designed to be transparent. A large concourse on the north side serves as the main entrance lobby and the building is connected to the University Centre

Students sit in an array of tables in between staircases in a triple height atrium.
Students use the study space in the Core Science Facility.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Primarily housing the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the Core Science Facility was open for student use in September 2021. Already, more than 3,000 undergraduate and hundreds of graduate students are using the building each week for laboratories and seminars.

The facility includes laboratories from the Core Research Equipment and Instrument Training Network, a Cryogenics Facility and an Aquatics Facility. There is also space allocated for the Ocean Frontier Institute, an international, multidisciplinary research partnership led by Memorial University, Dalhousie University and the University of Prince Edward Island.

The building is also home to a magnificent blue whale skeleton, stretching more than 25 metres through the west atrium of the building, made possible by a donation from Mark and Sandra Dobbin, and Craig and Lisa Dobbin, in honour of their late mother, Eleanor “Penney” Dobbin. The whale is meant to inspire the next generation of scientists and researchers, reflect Memorial’s oceans-related expertise and highlight the importance of protecting animals and their ecosystems.

Memorial’s strategic plan, Transforming our Horizons, calls for vibrant in-person spaces for learning, greater interdisciplinary collaboration and research, and a commitment to the communities of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Core Science Facility will enable meaningful action across all priority areas of the plan.

The community is welcome in the Core Science Facility and today’s event kicks off a year of celebration and public engagement. There will be opportunities for alumni and their families to visit; a contest to name the blue whale; whale- and oceans-themed events and activities; and more.

More information about the Core Science Facility is available online.

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