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Science I takes shape

Tuesday, 7 March 2017 1:25pm

The Mellor Laboratories exterior (top left) and students working in the newly created "super-lab". Photos: Sharron Bennett.

The first major phase of the $56m refurbishment of the University’s Science I building has been completed, named the Mellor Laboratories, and handed back to the Departments of Chemistry and Human Nutrition.

The substantially revamped building - named after noted 1898 Otago graduate Joseph William Mellor - features a flexible “super-lab” for 112 students, which can be divided into two, and includes iPads at each lab station. Another laboratory the same size, which can also be divided in two, will be created later.

Completing this stage of the Science 1 project involved stripping the 50-year-old building back to its bare bones and rebuilding it, while adding a new air-handling system, new windows, a new roof and new exterior cladding, that will include “living walls” of ivy.

"Everyone associated with the project - from Property Services, the architects, and Leigh’s construction and their subcontractors - have been wonderful to work with and they have all done a marvellous job to complete on time."

The refurbished West End of Science I is already being used to teach CHEM150, a total immersion Summer School course that allows students with limited chemistry backgrounds to get up to speed for first-year chemistry courses. The course is also taken by students studying in other disciplines who want to improve their chemistry knowledge.

Head of the Department of Chemistry, Professor Lyall Hanton, says he is delighted with the new laboratories and looks forward to work on the East End of the Science I building being completed by February of next year.

“Everyone associated with the project - from Property Services, the architects (Parker Warburton Team Architects with Lab-Works Architecture), and Leigh’s construction and their subcontractors - have been wonderful to work with and they have all done a marvellous job to complete on time,” he says.

The project is being managed internally by Capital Projects Unit Project Manager Christian German, who says the Science I project has also involved creating first-floor teaching and learning laboratories for Human Nutrition, along with a research clinic.

The second floor is now home to chemistry laboratories for second and third year Chemistry students, a dietetics laboratory, and a 50-person seminar room.

Those new facilities complement the refurbishment of the first floor of neighbouring Science II by Leighs Construction last year. It is home to new Laser Laboratories, chemistry Trace Elements Clean Rooms, and the biophysical chemistry Jameson Laboratory.

Mr German says the aim is to help the University achieve its strategic imperatives of excellence in teaching, outstanding student experiences, and outstanding campus environments – the refurbished buildings are expected to provide a high-quality home for the departments for at least the next 50 years.

What's in the name?

The chemist which the Science I building is now named after, Joseph Mellor, made a major contribution during World War One by designing high-temperature ceramics that were relevant to the steel industry and thus the war effort. Mellor also completed an unparalleled contribution to scientific literature by writing a 16-volume, 16-million word Comprehensive Treatise on inorganic chemistry.