Memorial University of Newfoundland, Core Science Facility

St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Project Summary

The Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) experienced a turning point in its 91-year history when buildings on campus began to mature. The aging facilities impacted the school’s ability to compete for top-tier faculty and students—but not for long. Thanks to external funding and a large contribution by MUN themselves, the University invested in the design and development of a new $325 million state-of-the-art research, teaching laboratory building to house both the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences on their St. John’s campus.

MGAC's Role

MGAC is honored to have been a part of that process, providing project management services from the get-go, with the later addition of relocation management services, for this very high-profile project. On an average day during the construction, the 480,000 SF Core Science Facility (CSF) saw well over 200 tradespeople on-site and exists as one of the largest and most complex, single-owner, capital projects ever completed in Newfoundland and Labrador. With its large scope and unique climate and location challenges, the project tested the limits of the local industry under the watchful eye of the general public—even, at one point, inviting a visit from the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau. The attention made our role that much more critical. From overseeing, managing, and coordinating with numerous project stakeholders, ranging from the University executives to operators and contractors, MGAC facilitated the required decision-making and approvals, to ensure the project stayed on budget and on schedule.


When it comes to creating a space that communicates the goals of the University, no task has been deemed too large—most literally demonstrated by the challenge of suspending the skeleton of a rare blue whale in the atrium of the facility. Creating a sustainable and low emission lab building also presented a challenge for the project team. Implementation of various energy recovery measures through active coordination between the building engineers, contractors, and MUN, enabled CSF to achieve its sustainability goals.

Another notable challenge was the tedious planning and relocation of the existing user groups of the CSF to the new building all while in the middle of a global pandemic. A multi-pronged management and coordination between the project management and relocation management team, led by MGAC, the CSF general contractor, consultants, users, movers, and other vendors, paralleled by commissioning and handover activities meant tireless hours of agile coordination and oversight. This would have not been possible without MUN’s complete trust and endorsement of MGAC, and clear roles and responsibilities governed and maintained by the CSF Project Management Office and MGAC.

Success Factors

The CSF set a new standard of excellence for facilities on campus and established Memorial University of Newfoundland as a leader in the global science and engineering community. The CSF’s key performance indicators, set at the onset of the project in direct discussions with the faculties and other project stakeholders, were achieved at the end of the project. This includes using the shelled space to help the University in securing research partnerships with other universities and industry associates; new and upgraded labs that allow for the immediate acquisition of the newest scientific instrumentation to enhance existing research and allow for new research; and with a significant increase in its usable space, CSF met the goal of recruiting more talent and increasing enrollment for the Faculty of Engineering.