With the completion of the A-Wing renovation, Dr. Steven Jones (PhD), associate provost USask Health Sciences (formerly Office of the Vice-Provost Health), said he’s looking forward to seeing how the revamped building impacts the community.
“The conclusion of the renovations gives us an opportunity to get all of these systems to work—to fire on all cylinders. All of the pieces are in place and now we can maximize that, working together day-to-day, within one physical structure,” Jones said.
Jones said the budget for the project is right on track, supported by the provincial government’s nearly $400 million in funding. Donors also provided support, including Les and Irene Dubé, who donated $10 million to the Health Sciences Library and the 1150 E-Wing lecture theatre—the university’s largest at 500 seats.
The Health Sciences Building houses the Colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy and Nutrition, as well as the School of Public Health and School of Rehabilitation Science. Although they are not housed in the building, the College of Kinesiology and Western College of Veterinary Medicine are also part of USask’s Health Sciences and help the university offer one of the broadest arrays of programs in Canada.
Curtis Larson, associate director of operations for Health Sciences, said the building was designed with shared spaces in mind.
“The idea was to promote interdisciplinary research and interprofessional education, because when you go into the workforce, doctors, nurses and pharmacists all interact with each other, so they should be learning together,” Larson said.
The multi-phase project was approved in December 2005 and the official groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase—D-Wing—was held in July 2007.
An overall focus on collaboration weaves through the wings, as core facilities were developed where researchers have access to shared equipment, rather than individual labs. In the D-Wing, the laboratories are organized based on research clusters, rather than department or college.
The E-Wing is the centre for social science research and houses the Clinical Learning Resource Centre, while the B-Wing renovation features reimagined classroom spaces. Meanwhile, the A-Wing is a central hub for all deans and administration units.
Efforts were made to ensure everyone in the building has access to natural light, through light wells and glass walls. With sustainability in mind, both the D and E-Wings are LEED-certified.
“E-Wing is LEED gold and D-Wing is silver, which is quite an accomplishment for a lab building because we don’t recirculate the air in that building,” Larson said, noting other features of LEED include energy-efficient light fixtures, reducing water usage through centralized kitchens, and using eco-friendly paints and flooring.
Since the wings are designed to emphasize collaboration, Larson is excited to see how the building influences the community.
“The best thing is being able to look at the building as a whole now, knowing that we can plan where we want to go from here,” he said.
For Jones, the opportunity for collaboration plays a key part in how USask can be the university the world needs.
“The University Plan 2025 challenges us to be the university the world needs, and this building has cemented interdisciplinary thinking on this campus, because it was built specifically to be shared,” he said. “It has to be done collaboratively, and for the benefit of all.”
More on the renovations project is available here.