University Buildings Strategy - Science Building

Oct 19th, 2018

Jennifer Batten

University Buildings Strategy - Science Building

As Memorial prepares for the planned fall 2020 opening of the Core Science Facility (CSF) and Animal Resource Centre (ARC), and relocation of units currently located in the Chemistry/Physics, Science, Engineering and Applied Science and Biotechnology Buildings, the opportunity to evaluate the utilization of space on campus has become a priority. In the present fiscal environment, it is essential that all options are explored to reduce costs associated with building operations and aging infrastructure while remaining committed to our strategic goals.

To ensure optimal use of physical teaching, learning and research space, Vice-Presidents Council has established a University Buildings Steering Committee to assess the university infrastructure footprint on the St. John’s campus, addressing aging infrastructure, pursuing cost reduction, and enabling modern space utilization. The steering committee membership includes the president and vice-chancellor, provost and vice-president (academic), vice-president (research), associate vice-president (facilities), and vice-president (administration and finance).

With VPC and Board of Regents endorsement, the university is now considering a multi-year university buildings strategy that balances the cost of redevelopment and renewal with the demolition of aging physical infrastructure.

As a first priority, a working group has been tasked with exploring options to consider the St. John’s campus without the Science building. Constructed in the 1960s, the Science building is one of the oldest buildings on campus, and its aging infrastructure has encumbered the university with a deferred maintenance liability of approximately $32.6M. Removing the Science building from the university’s footprint would generate approximate savings of $2.5M annually in operations and maintenance costs.

Recognizing the significant amount of teaching space that exists in the current Science building, the working group is also pursuing a centralized classroom booking pilot project. This work involves planning for classroom needs and functional analyses of classroom spaces.

The working group is taking a consultative approach to its work, engaging the university community where appropriate. On Thursday, Sept. 27, the president and vice-chancellor led question and answer sessions with faculty and staff from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Faculty of Science – the two units which would be most affected by the elimination of the Science building. Other members of the university community will have an opportunity to provide input as the work progresses, particularly with respect to renovation planning.

The timeline for any proposed changes to physical space will be linked to the September 2020 opening of the Core Science Facility.

Further information on the progress of this work will be shared as it becomes available. Please feel free to contact Roxanne Millan, chair of the working group, if you have any questions.

Working group membership:

  • Roxanne Millan, Director of Academic Support Services, Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) – chair 
  • Carol Tibbo, Director of Operations, Office of the Vice-President (Administration and Finance) 

Academic, Administrative and Research Leadership:

  • Mark Abrahams, Dean, Faculty of Science 
  • Jennifer Simpson, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 
  • Marlies Rise, Director, Strategic Institutional Research Initiatives 
  • Tom Nault, University Registrar 
  • Steve Green, Chief Information Officer and Director, IT Services 

Project Team members from Facilities Management:

  • Keith Bowden, Director, Engineering and Construction 
  • Jeff Boland, Director, Operations and Maintenance 
  • Jordan Wright, Manager, Office of the Associate Vice-President (Facilities) 
  • Other resource staff as required