Welcome to Western

Construction set to begin on new research building

By Jason Winders

New Building

University planners hope a new campus facility will provide researchers across varied disciplines an environment conducive to confronting the biggest questions facing society.

“The answers to the most difficult global problems and challenges facing us today lie at the intersection of disciplines. Increasingly, these answers require the active and critical involvement of multiple specialties to address their depth and complexity,” said John Capone, Vice-President (Research). “Western is at the forefront of fostering leading-edge, cross-disciplinary research. We have made significant investments over the past few years in strategic areas to expand and advance our global competitiveness and impact.”

Construction begins in mid-to-late winter on the latest investment in that pursuit.

The Western Interdisciplinary Research Building (WIRB) is a new facility university planners envision as a focal point for leading-edge research. Located on the current Visual Arts Parking Lot off Perth Drive, the 130,000-square-foot facility will serve as the new home for the Research Cluster for Cognitive Neuroscience and the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, as well as provide five mixed-use general classroom spaces. Approximately 25,000 square feet over two floors will be unfinished to accommodate future research related space needs.

“WIRB is another demonstration of our commitment to investing in interdisciplinary areas of strength, as is articulated in Western’s strategic plan as an institutional priority,” said Janice Deakin, Provost and Vice-President (Academic). “The building will significantly increase our capacity to support research teams that draw on the expertise of faculty, staff and students across campus. With programs like Interdisciplinary Development Initiatives – which has provided seed funding for 23 projects since its inception and attracted 18 applications in its fifth round – we are working hard to create new opportunities for learning and discovery that go beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries.”

The building will be eight floors, plus a mechanical penthouse and partial basement. In order to optimize use of land on this site, its footprint will occupy roughly half of the site. The remaining south half of the site will be available for future phases of construction, said Boris Pertout, Project Manager from Facilities Management.

The Board of Governors approved the allocation of one-time funds for the building’s construction in 2013-14 University Budget. Last month, design work was completed and a tender was released for construction. That process was accelerated to meet the desired completion schedule of late 2017 or early 2018. The award of the construction contract is scheduled for later this month.

As part of that construction, the Visual Arts lot will close at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 29, and not reopen until late 2017. Alternative parking for Grey and Orange permit holders can be found at the Medway or South Valley lots. Chemistry and Westminster Hall lots are also available, but are typically busier and fill quickly. Currently, the Visual Arts lot holds about 270 parking spaces; approximately 100 spots will remain after construction.

“The new facility will have a major impact on our ability to recruit outstanding researchers, encourage new partnerships and promote new and innovative training opportunities for our students,” Capone continued. “Indeed, we are already seeing the positive effects of this investment in our recent success in attracting leading researchers from globally prominent institutions that will be housed in the new building.”

The Interdisciplinary Research Building is only one of a number of construction and renovation projects across campus, including: