Faculty lead Dr. Warren Wakarchuk reveals the vision behind Ryerson’s new lab at MaRS
Driven by a bold vision to grow Ryerson’s capacity for world-class science research, Dean of Science Dr. Imogen Coe tasked professor and 20-year National Research Council veteran Dr. Warren Wakarchuk with leading the development of a new-generation research facility where Ryerson students and faculty could expand the horizons of biomedical science.
Before long, Dr. Wakarchuk, colleagues on the project’s Faculty User Group and the CPRE team were working with veteran science and technology designers NXL Architects on a 20,000-square-foot purpose-built laboratory in Toronto’s innovative MaRS Discovery District. While construction of the new space progresses quickly, Dr. Wakarchuk answers three key questions about what the new facility means for students, learning, and the future of biomedical research at Ryerson.
What’s behind Ryerson’s decision to invest in a new lab facility?
What excites you most about the new location within the MaRS Discovery District?
WW: “First and foremost, the new facility allows us to consolidate research and people who are currently scattered across campus into a specially designed, modern facility. And being situated within the MaRS complex allows our researchers to operate amidst other research-intensive organizations including Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Clinical Trials Ontario and U of T. I’m excited by the potential for growing our work and connections within this environment.
“At the heart of our vision is a belief that the era in which science happens in isolated labs behind closed doors is over. The new lab is divided into four flexible zones with discrete purposes and equipment, but with few physical separations, so people can collaborate and observe easily. By creating a space where idea-sharing and collaboration can happen naturally, and situating it all within a community dedicated to innovation, we are fundamentally changing the way our science will unfold and creating new synergies simply by proximity. And that means a big step forward in Ryerson’s ability to shape an exciting and fast-evolving field of scientific enquiry.”
Building a lab from scratch is a big undertaking. How did the team approach this project?
WW: “There’s no room for error in designing scientific facilities. Our Faculty User Group took this challenge very seriously, collaborating with our colleagues at CRPE and NXL Architects to identify needs, map workflows and sort out how it would all come together. That positive collaboration really comes through in the final design. We focused on making smart choices and investments, whether in collaboration spaces or high-end microscopy and cold lab equipment or more. What’s more, we’ve tried to both anticipate the evolving needs of researchers and leave room to grow. I’m tremendously excited to see how our teams adapt to a very different, but hugely promising new way of working together.”