Concordia University is planing to build a new science hub, top left in this artist's rendition, adjacent to the existing science building on its Loyola campus. Menkes, Shooner, Dagenais, LeTourneux Architectes
Concordia University’s plan to build a new science centre on its Loyola campus could be in jeopardy because some residents are unhappy that it will be built on green space.
The $52 million research centre is scheduled to be built behind the Richard J. Renaud Science Complex in western Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Plans call for the building to take up about 15 per cent of the grassy field (1,300 of 8,780 square metres) with the remaining green space set to be landscaped.
However, some residents who live close to the Loyola campus want the entire field preserved and suggest the university build the new science hub on a parking lot at the eastern end of the campus. They say the university could maintain the parking spaces by building an underground garage. Another option would be to build on an existing parking lot right behind St-Ignatius of Loyola Church, said Irwin Rapoport, a local resident who is trying to force a referendum on the issue.
Rapoport said he has enough signatures, almost 90, to require the borough to open a register that could lead to a referendum on the development plan. If enough residents sign the register, the borough has to decide whether to hold a referendum or scrap the existing project.
Rapoport said he is not against Concordia developing on the Loyola campus, but he said many N.D.G. residents appreciate Concordia having green space. “We want them to leave the green space alone,” he said.
The university does not have permission from the borough to build on the existing parking lots, said Mary-Jo Barr, Concordia’s director of public relations. She said the university’s master plan, which was approved by the borough in 2001, called for a student residence to be built on the site. But the university’s needs have changed over time, and it now requires “state-of-the-art research spaces and specialized equipment for its growing number of graduate students,” Barr said.
“We are going to bring together researchers from a wide variety of disciplines like chemistry, biology and engineering,” she said. “The goal is to foster collaborative work, so it’s important that the different researchers have easy access to one another and to the equipment.”
The plans call for the building to have two floors below ground, four storeys above ground and a mechanical room on the roof. The floors of the science building have to be higher than a student residence, which required a derogation from the borough, Barr said.
The proposal calls for a glass walkway between the two science buildings, and the remaining green space will be landscaped with 40 trees and plants. Picnic tables will also be added, along with pedestrian corridors. The new landscaping is designed to improve the quality of life for students and residents, who are welcome to use the green space, Barr said. “We consider ourselves to be close to our neighbours,” she said. “We want to create a campus that is an asset for all.”
The university held a meeting with local residents over the summer to discuss the project.
Barr said there are no plans to build on the remaining green space, and the derogation being requested is only for the site of the new building.
The project is being funded by Ottawa, Quebec, Concordia and its partners. About $20 million will come from the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF). The centre, which the university is calling a research and innovation hub, will become the university’s new home for applied scientific research. The centre will focus on biomedical products, bio products and nano materials.
The new space is supposed to house Concordia‘s new department of chemical and material engineering, the Centre for NanoScience Research and the Centre for Microscopy and Cellular Imaging. Research done in the centre will allow the university to continue exploring commercial partnerships with the aerospace, food, life science and nano science industries, Concordia president Alan Shepard said last month when the university announced the project.
N.D.G resident Valerie Turner attended a meeting about the project in August because she was worried that the new building would be built to close to a fence that separates her street (Doherty Ave.) from the field. “I was concerned that it would abut against the fence and be right in our face,” Turner said.
Turner said she was reassured that the building won’t be built close to her home, but adjacent to the existing science building on West Broadway St. “It looks like there will be a lot of green space in front of us,” she said.
However, a woman who lives on O’Bryan Ave. said she did sign a request for a register because she’s worried the four-storey building will block her sunlight in the morning and the construction will be noisy.
Construction of the new science building was scheduled to begin next spring, and the building would open in 2019.
Last year, N.D.G. residents blocked the development of several large houses on the site of St-Columba Church.
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