Researchers and students of the Faculty of Social Sciences together under one roof

Posted on Friday, October 19, 2012

For the first time ever in the history of the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Social Sciences, its 10,000 students, 260 professors and 100 staff members are together under one roof, in the heart of the downtown campus. This move will bring new vitality to the Faculty's intellectual resources by creating greater opportunities for collaborative research and teaching activities and lead to richer learning experiences.

The inauguration ceremony of the new Social Sciences building took place today and was attended by dignitaries from the federal and Ontario governments, and by the building's designers and many members of the University of Ottawa community.

“The University of Ottawa is on the move, and this beautiful modern building is just the latest evidence,” says Allan Rock, president and vice-chancellor of the University. “Students and researchers in our largest faculty will benefit from the synergies that come with being together under one roof. This is more than just a new building; it's a veritable social science laboratory.”

The 15-storey building with a surface area of 25,299 square metres (272,318 square feet) is connected to Vanier Hall by several walkways, bringing together the Faculty of Social Sciences' nine academic units (departments, schools and an institute) as well as six research centres. The construction of the new building and renovations to Vanier Hall required an investment of $120 million dollars.

A gathering place for students and researchers and a venue for collaboration

The entire second floor was designed expressly for students and provides them with numerous study areas and places to gather, which will help to provide a richer and more inspiring student experience—one of the four over-arching goals laid out in Destination 20/20, the University's strategic plan. In addition, each floor boasts meeting rooms to make it easier for researchers and students working on projects to gather together.

“Researchers from different disciplines can investigate various aspects of the same phenomena. The rich and diverse exchanges this brings, the synergy it creates and the ideas that emerge will lead to innovative solutions to increasingly complex societal problems faced locally, nationally and internationally,” says Marcel Mérette, dean of the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Social Sciences.

New research laboratories to inspire a new generation of initiatives and projects

Larger spaces and state-of-the-art equipment in the laboratories will spur research and stimulate interaction among the different social science disciplines. In fact, the School of Psychology's new INSPIRE Laboratory makes it possible for researchers to explore areas of overlap between the social sciences and humanities and the field of neuroscience. This lab is one of only two labs in the world today (the other one being at Harvard University) with an integrated system capable of capturing in real time an individual's cognitive and biological reactions to various stimuli.

A model of environmental responsibility

The University of Ottawa's new Faculty of Social Science building is far more than just a spectacular architectural jewel. It also meets strict environmental guidelines, which reflects the Faculty's values and the University's formal commitment to sustainable development. The administration is seeking a LEED Gold certification for this building that brings the FSS's new home close to being a net-zero energy building in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and heating load through the use of techniques and technologies such as:

  • The tallest living wall in North America, at six storeys, regulates humidity and acts as the building's air purification system
  • Gardens on some roof surfaces create thermal insulation and allow improved storm water management
  • Heat from the data centre will be recycled and used to heat not only the new building but also buildings connected to the central heating system

About the Faculty of Social Sciences

The Faculty of Social Sciences comprises eight departments and schools and one institute, which offer undergraduate, masters and doctoral programs in both English and French. With its 10,000 students, 260 full-time professors and wide array of programs and research centres, the Faculty of Social Sciences plays a key role at the heart of the University of Ottawa. Its graduate students are supervised by excellent researchers and undertake cutting-edge research in the Faculty's masters and PhD programs.

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