The following summarizes the Safety & Pedagogy Study completed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects commissioned by the University of Lethbridge to address areas of concern regarding the science teaching and research laboratory facilities in University Hall.
Current science labs in University Hall are outdated and tight for space.
(Photos from Diamond and Schmitt Safety & Pedagogy Study, 2007)
- Mechanical infrastructure is stretched to its limits, return HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems is shared in vertical zones with other occupancy types. This is inadequate from a health, safety and bio-containment standpoint.
- Modern lab HVAC design dictates that to achieve satisfactory air quality, no lab air is recirculated.
- It would be onerous and expensive to retrofit HVAC infrastructure to meet modern standards for lab air quality and energy consumption.
- University Hall is the main hub of electrical distribution for the entire campus and all available capacity of the electrical infrastructure is being utilized.
- The original functional program requirements of the late ’60s didn’t anticipate heavy use of personal computers, electronic scientific equipment and their power demands.
- Power outages and surges are a constant issue in labs.
- The addition of overhead lights in labs affect sensitive instruments and the quality of power being delivered.
- There is a lack of data network access in teaching labs for student access and interconnection of instructional and analytical equipment.
- It would be extremely difficult and costly to upgrade basic electrical and data communications systems.
General building planning issues:
- The source of most lab planning issues is that University Hall was never envisioned as large “wet” science component, and retrofits done over time have had to overcome serious handicaps with varied success.
- University Hall is a narrow building which constrains traffic and class size straining functionality and safety of area.
- The lack of space in dry labs means delicate analytical equipment is constantly moved around resulting in damage and loss of calibration.
- There is a lack of shared space for equipment. In some cases corridors have been used creating safety hazards.
- Deficiency of departmental cohesiveness as research activities have been dispersed over three levels of the building as space becomes available.
- Transportation of hazardous materials is not ideal. There is no dedicated freight elevators which means pedestrian entrances are used to move these materials throughout campus.