Renovations to UTM Davis Building labs underway

Upgrades come as part of project aiming to upgrade nearly half of U of T labs

Renovations to UTM Davis Building labs underway

UTM is currently undergoing a $17 million renovation project to update the biology, chemistry, and physics lab spaces housed in the Davis Building.

This undertaking is part of the Lab Innovation for Toronto (LIFT) project that began in July 2016. The project is a $190 million partnership between U of T and the provincial and federal governments to upgrade nearly half of U of T’s labs over the next two years. The university will pay $91.8 million, and the federal and provincial governments will contribute $83.7 million and $14.3 million, respectively.

UTM will use its funding to update its research facilities with newer equipment. According to The Medium, some of the renovated labs in the Davis Building have been combined to create larger, collaborative spaces. Upgraded fume hoods and machine ventilation to remove chemicals and agents from the air within the labs will be added.

Two of the labs, run by Professor Angela Lange and Assistant Professor Andrew Beharry, will see the installation of the new fume hoods as well as the installation of cell culture rooms, dedicated microscope suites, and quarantine rooms.

A significant portion of the funding will also go toward the installation of backup generators and new heating and air conditioning units.

Though the aesthetics from renovations are appealing, a well-functioning lab plays a key role in research developments.

The facilities were built in 1972, and the air handling and electrical systems were found to be inefficient. The aging system also required numerous repairs thattook significant time.

The LIFT project renovations to the Davis Building are expected to finish by this spring.

Davis building at UTM gets makeover

Renovations to double seating at the Meeting Place

Davis building at UTM gets makeover

Renovations to the W.G Davis Building, the cornerstone of the UTM campus, will begin in March 2018 and will include updates to the building’s seating, main entrance, and food court. The renovations are slated to be completed before the 2019 fall session.

The upcoming construction will be the second stage of a three-phase project that is expected to culminate with the building of a Student Services Plaza, which will include outdoor seating.

Among the changes to be made to the structure is an expansion of one of its key locations. The Meeting Place, a gathering place for students, will grow from 400 to almost 1,000 seats, alongside substantial aesthetic modifications.

“The architects have done a really good job in terms of breaking it up into different sections, different styles of seating, so it’s not one big cavernous hall of a thousand seats. It’s really going to be quite functional,” said Paul Donoghue, UTM’s Chief Administrative Officer.

Also getting revamped is the main entrance to the building, which will have improved accessibility and maintainability. The changes will include an enclosed vestibule and canopy. The food court will be expanded to incorporate a minimum of 10 new food outlets, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and Halal options, all of which will be under the campus-wide contract with food service company Chartwells, added Donoghue.

The Davis building, built in the early 1970s, is the campus’ largest building and is home to the majority of UTM’s research laboratories, several academic departments, lecture halls, Student Services, academic services, and the main administrative functions.

The first phase of renovations, completed in 2009, consisted of changes to the second floor that allowed it to house several academic departments. The changes also brought the completion of the main administrative offices. However, the next stage was put on hold while construction efforts were focused on the “expansion of teaching and office space to accommodate fast-paced enrolment growth,” according to the Report of the Project Planning Committee.

The updates to the building will likely be welcome on campus. “[The Meeting Place] doesn’t lend itself to minor tweaking and renovations, so essentially not much has been done down there since [its construction],” said Donoghue.

The upcoming renovations will have repercussions for the UTM campus. Once construction starts, the Meeting Place will essentially be out of service: a fraction of its seating will be transferred to Spigel Hall, and the Subway and Booster Juice kiosks will close. Bus service to Mississauga and Brampton will be disrupted; bus stops will be relocated to other locations on campus.

In addition, traffic flow will be reversed on the end portion of Inner Circle Road to provide access to the Student Centre, and short-term parking in front of the building will be lost during the construction period, although the number of accessible parking spots will be maintained.

The renovations to the Davis building will be funded by the UTM Capital Reserves derived from Operating the Food Service Ancillary.

Executives of University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union were not available for comment by the time this story was published.