Abbott inaugurates $43 million science building
Structure built around century old ginkgo tree
A visit last week to John Abbott College by Dr. David Suzuki coincided with the official opening of the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue CEGEP’s new $43 million Science and Health Technologies building.
The environmentally advanced building is expected to receive its LEED gold certification. According to the Canada Green Building Council website, LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the internationally accepted third-party certification program setting a standard for the design, construction and operation of high performing green buildings. LEED Canada’s website says the certification means such buildings show immediate and measurable differences compared to other buildings.
A LEED gold building can only receive certification after one year in use.
For Suzuki, such buildings should be the rule, not the exception.
The state-of-the-art science building that is now open to students and teachers houses John Abbott’s science, health science and pharmaceutical science programs. And its low carbon footprint means the building is a “living laboratory” for students in environmental and energy studies.
A ginkgo tree situated in the courtyard of the century-old campus has become a symbol of environmental effort. The entire building was designed around the tree, which now stands just feet from a solid glass wall in the building’s foyer.
«The act of folding the building around the existing tree crystalizes the recognition that science should have towards nature and humankind,» Gilles Saucier, architect with Saucier and Perrotte Architects, said during a tour.
He did admit the tree, one of the oldest species on earth, was in the way but said he could not imagine killing it.
Saucier said the building was designed to respect the way people move. With that in mind, a staircase considered the elbow of the building boasts wide, open concept steps the reward of which is an unparalleled view of the waterfront campus. The higher one goes, the better the view through floor to ceiling sheets of glass windows. Six floors boast classrooms, state-of-the-art labs, offices and learning spaces. There are 112,000 square feet of living space, forty percent of which are covered with windows. The building took four years to design.
Dr. Suzuki was the keynote speaker at an inaugural gala held last Wednesday evening attended by political notables, community leaders, college alumni and supporters. The evening was the official opening of the new sciences of the building. It was also a way to thank those who helped fund the $43 million project. Called unique in educational fundraising, money for the building came from corporate, community and student support in addition to money generated by the John Abbott College Foundation’s Building Futures Capital Campaign. The Trottier Family Foundation kicked things off with a $2,000,000 donation, followed by the JAC’s Student Union with a $500,000 donation. Pfizer Canada and other industry leaders also contributed. The funds were combined with a $7 million contribution from the provincial and federal governments.
JAC Director General Ginette Sheehy praised the fundraising model, which she called unique within Quebec’s CEGEP community.
Architect Gilles Saucier called the staircase of the new science building its elbow. He likened using the stair to climbing a tree.
Students work in state-of-the-art labs.
The higher one goes up on the staircase, the better the view of the waterfront campus.