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University of Waterloo

Earth, Sciences, Chemistry Building, Third Floor Renovation


The Earth, Science, Chemistry building is described by the University of Waterloo as an old friend. As one of the cultural centers on campus, the building itself represented valuable embodied carbon. And yet, there was an undeniable disconnection between the program and available spaces, challenges with the building flow, and lack of standards for materials, equipment, energy efficiency and safety after years of smaller renovations. Therefore, this project was structured to update the spatial arrangement and organization of the labs, bring the facility up to modern code and sustainability standards, aligning with the cutting edge research and work of its faculty, staff and students.

The eight modular lab areas are designed with custom casework layouts, responsive to the unique needs of the researchers, and connected with associated graduate offices, professor offices, administration, and collaborative work areas. The existing double loaded corridor was reconfigured into a single-loaded, glazed corridor along the west side. This project became phase 1 of the full master planned renewal, because it includes infrastructure upgrades that are critical for future renovations, including building sprinklers and a tri-stack high plume exhaust stack to serve the entire building.

Informed by an energy model analysis, the mechanical system renovations are upsized to serve the entire building, with an optimized HVAC system designed for future connections to sustainable resources. The addition of a roof sheet air/vapor barrier, polyiso rigid insulation, closed cell spray, and new double-glazed thermal unit glazing increases the R value to the high-performance envelope. The rubber floors have a high recycled content and the design reused existing terrazzo flooring where possible. Labs are outfitted with prefinished metal casework and energy efficient low flow fume hoods.

Project Facts


Partners and Consultants


Structural – Blackwell Structural Engineers
Electrical – Stantec
Cost– Hanscomb

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