Building Our Campus Crossroads: Spotlight on Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre

Take a look at the progress on the Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre renewal project.


Over a year has passed since most U of A staff, faculty and students started working and learning remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means progress on the Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre renewal has gone largely unseen by those not on site. This major capital project is 22 months underway and once fully revitalized by the end of 2023, with full occupancy in early 2024, this iconic campus landmark will serve as an important hub for our community. 

Since the last project update in February, our contractors and project managers have been busy planning, restoring, reinforcing and rebuilding elements all throughout the 1922 building while simultaneously erecting a seven-story North Wing.

Driving community connections 

An open space will serve as a crossroads for the university community where the century-old brick facade of the 1922 building comes face-to-face with the new seven-story North Wing. This public gathering space will include three stories of balconies that overlook the area below.

On the west side of the space, a new connection between Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre and SAB will serve as a welcoming entry pavilion to the two buildings, as well as continue an expansive indoor network to support connectivity and pedestrian traffic during winter months. This open-concept connection system also includes pathways between CAB, Cameron Library, Chemistry, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, CCIS and Biological Sciences. 


Blending old with new

Built in 1922, the original Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre wasn’t designed to accommodate modern building infrastructure, such as ventilation. Innovation ensures the building will meet these modern expectations while staying true to the character of the original building. An example of this is the arched ceiling in the hallways—electrical wiring, mechanical piping and sprinklers will run along the left and right sides in the empty space where the ceiling drops downwards.

Steel beams have been added to support the existing structure as additional features are added, keeping the aesthetic similar to the original but making it much stronger.


Adapting for the future

The plaster work in the original reading room has endured decades of damage as a result of running cables and pipes, and from being covered up for at least the past 50 years. The aim is for specialists to sympathetically restore this plasterwork through photo references and plaster casts.


Additionally, some of the terrazzo flooring has been successfully restored in the corridors and a duplication process will take place to ensure the rest of the floors match. Marble borders the old terrazzo floors, which will continue on the new floors. This marble will originate from the same Canadian quarry to ensure there is consistency in the colour and pattern.

Panoramic views

The new seven story West Wing is enveloped in insulated metal panels with triple pane glazing that allows for a natural lighting of the space. These glass panels reduce the required energy to heat and cool the building, allowing the building to meet updated sustainability requirements in building codes and are Alberta-made nearby in Calgary. Occupants can enjoy a beautiful view of downtown from the north-east corner of the top floor.


Watch the transformation

These two timelapse videos show the daily progress of the project since construction began in June 2019. Take a look at how far the transformation has come from either the north east view (Rutherford Library) or the north west (SAB).

View from Rutherford Library

View from SAB