Previously known as the Science and Engineering Building, Science A is the second of the two original buildings on campus. Built in conjunction with the Arts and Education Building (now Administration), both buildings opened to the new campus’ first class of students in the fall of 1960.
The budget for Science A ($2.7 million) included the basement construction of the heating plant to service the two buildings. The Central Heating and Cooling Plant would not come on line until 1967, one year following the collapse of a portion of the underground boiler room wall in Science A (quickly repaired).
The university rapidly outgrew the two original buildings: by 1964, the cafeteria in the basement of Science A had to accommodate over double the intended number of students, and the botany department’s greenhouses on the roof of Science A had expanded three times. In an effort to provide additional rooms for all the science and engineering programs, the central open-air courtyard became labs in 1969.
In the spring of 2010, the university received an architect’s report on possible upgrades to Science A. The report suggested the addition of 8,900 gross square metres and the renovation of 12,500 square metres of existing space by building a new two-storey wing, a new lecture theatre wing, and adding another floor atop the existing building. The previously filled-in courtyard would return to allow natural light into the centre of the building. The estimated cost was between $89 and $109 million.
Although full funding never materialized, parts of the building did close for renovation in the fall of 2011. These spaces included linkage and high-traffic areas, bathrooms, elevators, lecture theatres and classrooms, and spaces recently vacated from the move to the new EEEL building. The renovations, and upgrades to building codes, cost $18.1 million.
In 2014, the idea of a major reconstruction project resurfaced again, however, due to lack of funding, no timeline was set.