Atlantic Science Enterprise Centre (ASEC) in Moncton, New Brunswick, achieves the project’s key objective of establishing new partnerships with First Nations groups by incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing and being in design aspects.
Large open spaces, flooded with natural light will offer gathering places, spaces for learning and collaboration, and talking circles are some aspects of Indigenous inspiration in design. The use of wood and glazing will open the facility toward the outdoors, creating connections with the natural surroundings. Visual representations of Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik, and Passamaquoddy culture will be found throughout the new facility and its landscape.
Led by Mi’kmaq Elder, Noel Millea, the consultation will seek to create a welcoming space for Indigenous employees and visitors alike, and offer an inclusive environment where Indigenous ceremonies, storytelling, meetings, and cultural training can take place.
Designed by Diamond Schmitt, in association with EXP, the new ASEC facility will provide federal scientists and partners with space and equipment to collaborate on research opportunities; and understand, protect, and sustain Atlantic freshwater and coastal ecosystems in Canada.
The new ASEC will occupy the former home of the Collège Notre-Dame-d’Acadie, which was originally founded and run by the Sisters of Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur. Opening in 1949, it was the first institution of higher education for Acadian women. The building was purchased by the Government of Canada in 1982 and reopened in 1985 as the Gulf Fisheries Centre.
Through consultation with the Sisters, the prominence of the Collège’s main west heritage facade will be retained and serve as a principal element in Diamond Schmitt’s scheme. It will be centrally positioned and anchor the new facility, with the existing main entrance remaining as the principal entry point. The design will interpret the building’s historical pavilion character and strive to commemorate its origins by integrating and adapting key elements and spaces into the now expanded program.
Visitors and staff alike will be welcomed into the building through a full-height, four-storey atrium and skylit galleria which will serve as an exhibition space to commemorate the Sisters, provide a place for science on display, recognize Indigenous communities, and serve as a place for gathering. The atrium and galleria will act as the connective tissue between the building’s different programming components, while establishing the importance of the public realm which includes a flexible multipurpose room, Mawiomi—an Indigenous gathering, informal, and formal meeting spaces of varying sizes.
The net-zero carbon facility will allow the scientific work it will host to be advanced in an energy efficient and sustainable manner. Science areas will be organized around the creation of neighbourhoods that will group similar types of investigation together, encouraging the sharing of resources and equipment. This plan creates synergies between those groups, while providing opportunities to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations. Laboratory space will be lit with daylight and views, be universally accessible, and adapt easily to the daily and future needs of occupants as their research evolves.
Construction on the centre has begun. It is being built in three phases to allow for the continued use of the existing building during construction. The site preparation work is currently underway as part of the first phase. The construction of the new science wing to the north of the existing building will begin in 2024.