University of Lethbridge Science Commons building recognized for architectural design

Science Commons building on the University of Lethbridge campus wins international gold medal award for architectural design. File

The University of Lethbridge’s new science building has received a prestigious international award for its architectural design.

The structure was created by Canadian firms KPMB Architects and Stantec Architecture; companies which were awarded the gold medal from the World Architecture Awards (WAN) in the education category.

The Science Commons building was completed in 2019, and the 36,000-square-meter structure has been recognized as an “exemplar for climate-responsive research buildings,” according to KPMB architects.

The architects also say the structure’s elegant glass design was applauded by the awards jury, not only for its aesthetics, but also because it’s highly flexible and energy-efficient.

KPMB says with expected energy reductions of 51 per cent, the building’s architecture is a step in the right direction as it’s being recognized as one of the most advanced science buildings in Canada.

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“The actual design phase and the production phase when you’re doing all of the technical drawings, it took almost two years,” said Bruce Kuwabara, founding partner at KPMB Architects.

“It took a lot of time working with the faculty and students at the university to try and develop the right option for the building, and there were several.”

The architects also say they drew inspiration from Arthur Erickson’s iconic University Hall structure on the school’s campus, as well as the surrounding coulee landscape.

“The iconic landscape of Lethbridge was our inspiration as it was for Erickson,” said Michael Moxam, vice-president at Stantec Architecture.

“While University Hall slices through the coulee landforms, Science Commons invites the landscape to become the key organizing element of the project,” he added.

Moxam said the building’s connection to the north end of U-Hall ensures its long-term viability, connecting the upper and lower campus.

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