The University of Lethbridge Science Commons project is a five-level science and academic building located on the university’s main campus. Designed to feature “science on display,” the open-concept facility promotes interdisciplinary collaboration, fosters innovation, and provides the public with a firsthand look at the university’s research initiatives. The 400,000-square-foot project is home to the University of Lethbridge’s chemistry, biology, and physics departments, and their required teaching and research facilities. The building also features a 250-seat auditorium, three lecture halls, a winter garden, offices, atriums and common spaces, and a cutting-edge vivarium.
From the outset, it was clear to the project team that the University of Lethbridge wanted a higher education facility that focused on sustainability. Working with the building’s layout and Lethbridge’s unique climate, PCL, the architects (KPMB/Stantec Architects), and the University of Lethbridge developed a double-wall curtain system as an energy-saving initiative. The cavity created by the double curtain wall acts as a plenum, using solar heat to passively precondition the air within the cavity to support the building’s mechanical systems.
Additionally, the project team integrated operable windows into the building management system, which open and close, as directed, to allow fresh air into the building. The Venetian blinds covering the inner windows are automated and controlled by the building management system, which controls the amount of natural light entering the building and promotes the university’s “science on display” initiative.
The Science Commons is targeting a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification.