The University of Lethbridge Science Commons hosts teaching and research activities for the chemistry, biology and physics departments. A large vivarium on the lowest level focuses primarily on neuroscience research. The Science Commons building is the largest building on campus and includes unique design elements that provided added complexity to construction.

A double curtain wall and passive ventilation system preconditions the air that goes throughout the building. The building management system controls the exterior curtain wall, which opens and closes to collect air. The same system controls the window blinds, which regulate the amount of daylight and solar gains entering the building, offering greater natural light. This innovative system helps consume 50% less energy than projects of similar size and scale.

Our team self-performed concrete pours at the five-level Science Commons, which reduced costs, tightened the schedule and increased quality and safety. A column-hung, rather than a traditional, concrete-slab formwork technique saved time on the schedule by eliminating reshoring needs. A unique shotcrete hybrid was used to form the foundation and shoring walls. This technique eliminated the need for backfill, as the waterproofing was developed between the shoring and foundation walls. It also eliminated the need for a full caisson shoring wall, so shoring went more quickly. Additionally, the shotcrete lagging filled any cavities along the perimeter of the building, resulting in a faster process, and the shotcrete settled better over time.  

The exterior of the Science Commons building showcases the innovative work going on inside. High, open glazed walls introduce the public and non-faculty to the concept of “science on display.” Passersby can look inside and see the work of students, researchers and faculty. Research teams at the University of Lethbridge now have a top facility to work in, and the university is an attractive destination for students studying for careers in science.

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