Drawing inspiration from Arthur Erickson’s iconic University Hall and the undulating coulee landscape, Science Commons establishes leadership in transdisciplinary research while creating an exemplar for climate-responsive research buildings. Key to project success was the design of a highly flexible and efficient structure that embodied collaboration and campus connectivity.
The building design respects the legacy of Erickson’s intersection of landscape and architecture through the creation of a transparent, accessible design. The idea of ‘science on display’ is core to the project.
The design offers hands-on learning experiences to students and researchers at all stages of their careers – from post-doctoral to kindergarten students— to share experience and ignite discovery across a spectrum of ages. Meaningful collaboration spaces throughout the building unite research, teaching, and learning. Four flexible lab neighborhoods define the public realm, organized around a central ‘piazza’.
The building’s transparency, inside and out, reinforces visual connections to the research programs and prairie landscape. The design strategy capitalizes on Lethbridge’s climate—one of the sunniest and driest places in Canada—for passive energy. A double-façade system for perimeter offices and glazing along the east, west and south elevations draw in natural light and act as a natural lung for building ventilation, greatly reducing ventilation needs. With this strategy, significant energy reductions (51%) are expected. The building’s architecture realizes the vision to create the most advanced science building in Canada—an incubator for transdisciplinary discovery by creating a highly sustainable, flexible, and supportive platform to discover solutions to the challenges facing humanity.