By Jensen, Randy on July 29, 2020.
Submitted by the University of Lethbridge
The University of Lethbridge’s University Hall had a little taken off the top this past week. Call it a crew cut reminiscent of the style of its original look from 1971, the year the iconic Arthur Erickson designed building was completed – the exhaust stacks are gone.
A total of 27 stacks were erected over the years as necessary updates to University Hall to meet modern laboratory ventilation standards and provide a safe work environment primarily in the university’s biology and chemistry labs. When the sciences moved into the new Science Commons facility in September 2019, one of the first orders of business was to decommission the stacks and take them down.
“The removal of the exhaust stacks was envisioned early in the design process for Science Commons,” says Gene Lublinkhof, director of Campus Development. “The stacks were necessary but I’m not sure anyone could honestly say they looked great, so we are pleased to see them taken down.”
Removing the stacks is more than symbolic, it marks the starting point of the second phase of the Destination Project, which includes the redevelopment of spaces within the original University Hall.
“The building is testament to civic and university leadership’s bold vision to establish a comprehensive liberal arts university in southern Alberta,” adds Lublinkhof. “It set the tone and established the University of Lethbridge as a permanent and important institution for our region.”
Recently, the provincial government made a $20-million commitment to the renewal of the central heating and cooling plant within University Hall, a crucial step in the rehabilitation of the building. The new plant replaces one far past its life expectancy and will greatly enhance the energy sustainability of the U of L, ensuring continued reliability of the campus infrastructure.
“With the 50th anniversary of University Hall’s opening approaching, we are excited to work on revitalization plans of what really is a Lethbridge landmark,” adds Lublinkhof of the world-renowned building. “While we have had strong maintenance strategies throughout the years, and continually upgraded to meet building and fire codes, we still face a number of challenges as we embark on this rehabilitation plan, simply with some of the original mechanical and electrical systems being 50 years old.”
Much needs to be done before that work begins, including the establishment of a master plan for the now-open spaces. For now, purists can revel in the return of the flat top to Erickson’s iconic work.