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Newfoundland university STEM building emulates natural elements, local traditions

University Buildings

Newfoundland university STEM building emulates natural elements, local traditions

Features 82-foot-long blue whale skeleton in atrium and rooftop renewable energy research labs.

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | June 7, 2022
MUN STEM building ext 1
Courtesy HOK.

Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) recently opened a new building that will provide interdisciplinary learning and research space for its faculties of Science and Engineering. The design takes design cues from natural elements and local building traditions. The atrium features an 82-foot-long blue whale skeleton that washed ashore in Newfoundland. This artifact reflects the university’s ocean-related expertise and inspires scientists and researchers.

The Core Science Facility houses Electrical and Computer Science, and includes research and learning labs, renewable energy curricula, and rooftop research labs that overlook solar panels and wind turbines. The teaching lab and research labs are co-located so undergraduates can assist with graduate research and participate in more hands-on learning opportunities.

The facility’s three tower block pavilions are linked by two tall vertical atria that promote interaction among students, researchers, and instructors from different disciplines. The North Atlantic’s rugged icebergs and local marine environment inspired the building’s shape and colors.

The main floor concourse is a vibrant social hub and another area for cross-disciplinary interaction. It also houses aquatics labs and classroom, lab, and meeting space for the Core Research Equipment and Instrument Training (CREAIT) Network.

The second floor is more student-focused, with project studios, computer labs, classrooms, and collaboration areas for hands-on learning. The three upper levels contain research labs and learning spaces for graduate students. Co-locating research and teaching labs enable students to share specialized equipment, exposing undergraduate students to post-graduate research.

Flexible furniture, pod workstations, and flat panel screens in lab spaces support group work. Windows into these lab and studio spaces provide a view into research taking place on all five floors.

On the sustainability front, chilled beams and a heat recovery wheel reduce the building’s energy use by 40 percent compared to a conventional design. The facility also offers private practice space for outside partners, including the Ocean Frontier Institute, to work alongside university researchers.

Building Team:

Owner and/or developer: Memorial University Newfoundland
Design architect: HOK
Architect of record: HOK
MEP engineer: TTN in association with RG Vanderweil
Structural engineer: DBA in association with Entuitive
General contractor/construction manager: MARCO

MUN STEM building lab int
Courtesy HOK.
MUN STEM building int 2
Courtesy HOK.
MUN STEM building int 3
Courtesy HOK.
MUN STEM building lobby int
Courtesy HOK.


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