Recently built projects like the Physical Activity and Wellness Centre are helping the University of Alberta redefine its identity and the services it offers to prospective and current students. One of the academic institution's most complex new developments arrived on the scene in 2011 when the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science swung open its doors. A joint venture between Flad Architects and ONPA Architects, the facility emphasizes the cross-pollination and exchange of ideas and techniques, allowing professionals, researchers and students to collaborate under one roof.

The northern section under construction in July 2009, image by Flickr user Leendert van den Berg via Creative Commons

The red brick and glass building sprawls across the north end of the main quad, replacing sections of the old physics building. Classrooms and laboratories inside the 578,775-square-foot, LEED Silver building serve approximately 3,000 students and 1,000 staff across six disciplines. Constructing such a comprehensively large facility required 825,000 cubic feet of concrete, 1,039 tonnes of steel, 226,000 cubic feet of glass and 731 kilometres of electrical cable. 

A number of environmentally conscious features are embedded into the design. Roof-mounted sensors measure sunlight entering the building and then adjust interior lighting levels accordingly, and when a room is not occupied, the lights automatically switch off. MechoShade window coverings help control solar heat gain and glare, limiting use of artificial lighting, heating, and air conditioning.

The completed Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences, image retrieved from Google Street View

The building also features a signature 40,000-square-foot terrazzo floor fashioned by artist Scott Parsons, who infused the design with images reflecting multiple fields of science. The floor uses recycled glass and gravel from mining projects to increase its texture.

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