Major new teaching and research facility opens at McGill University
The new M.H. Wong building will house the departments of chemical engineering and metallurgical engineering. This project was made possible thanks to a generous gift from Hong Kong alumnus M.H. Wong.
Building named in memory of Hong Kong graduate
Named in memory of Jimmy Man-Hung Wong, a McGill University alumnus and benefactor from Hong Kong, the M.H. Wong Building will be officially opened on April 3, 1997 at 10:00. This state-of-the-art building will house Chemical Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering, and some facilities of the Chemistry and Physics departments.
The first major new academic construction on McGill Universitys downtown campus in almost 20 years, the M. H. Wong Building opens officially on April 3, 1997 at 10:00 a.m. Mrs. Wong Hung Lai-Chun, mother of the McGill graduate and benefactor in whose memory the building is named, will be coming from Hong Kong with other family members and friends to participate in the opening. The building is a $35-million facility with 15,000 square metres of laboratory, office and ancillary space.
In a period of retrenchment for all universities, the opening of the M. H. Wong Building is especially important to McGill. Principal Bernard Shapiro speaks enthusiastically: "Realization of this project reaffirms the continuing commitment of McGill University, together with its friends and supporters in Quebec, the rest of Canada and around the world, to provide the best possible resources for higher education and research. We are particularly proud that the name of this building honours the memory of a graduate from Hong Kong. The presence on our campus of a large number of superb students from more than 140 countries is a major contribution to what makes McGill such a widely respected institution. The strong ties of affection for McGill that Jimmy Man-Hung Wong maintained because of his education here are an inspiration to us all."
Research to be done in the new building will focus on the characteristics and production of materials and composites to be used in a variety of industrial sectors, such as pulp and paper, metals, ceramics and plastics. Specific areas McGill researchers will investigate include super-resistant ceramics which can be spun and painted, glassy metals capable of storing hydrogen, and polymer materials for ultra-lightweight cars.
"The M. H. Wong Building is an exciting response to the Faculty of Engineerings longstanding critical need for additional space," says Dean of Engineering John Dealy. "It will provide state-of-the-art facilities for students and researchers in the Chemical Engineering and Metallurgical Engineering departments, who are doing research on new materials that will enhance our quality of life." The structure will also house units from the Chemistry and Physics departments of the Faculty of Science. Relocation of the two engineering departments will liberate a considerable amount of space in the McConnell and Macdonald Engineering Buildings. In the near future, work will begin on renovating this space to the standards and needs of 21st century McGill.
A sculpture on the outside main steps of the building, by Montreal artist Jacek Jarnuszkiewicz, dominates the entrance. Representing the keys to knowledge, the sculpture is made of brass, copper and stainless steel -- materials germane to the type of research the building houses. Inside, another Montreal artist, Jean-François Cantin, has created three optical pieces that emanate from installations suspended beneath the main staircase.
The M. H. Wong Building is situated on a site previously occupied by the Eaton Electronics Research Laboratory and the Foster Radiation Laboratory and Cyclotron. The Foster Building had a limestone facade and architectural style which warranted preservation. The University therefore decided to incorporate the shell of the 80-year-old laboratory facility into the new structure. The refurbished building is fully integrated into the complete facility and houses the academic and administrative offices of the occupant departments.
The buildings design, by Marosi & Troy, Architects, in collaboration with Jodoin, Lamarre, Pratte & Associates, was made only after extensive consultation with the McGill scientists who will be using it. For example, an indispensable tool for much of their research will be a highly advanced interfaculty electron microscope and materials characterization facility. This part of the building has been built on a separate and autonomous foundation in order to render it virtually vibration-proof. The building has also been planned for maximum flexibility, energy conservation, environmental comfort and safety. This will help ensure that it will serve the McGill community as effectively as possible for as long as possible and with minimal future alteration time and costs.
Funding for the project has come primarily from three areas: the Quebec Government provided $15.7 million, the Federal Government $5 million, and the private sector $12 million. The M. H. Wong Building is named in memory of the projects most generous private donor, the late Jimmy Man-Hung Wong, a McGill graduate (B.Sc. (Arch.) 80, B. Arch. 81) from Hong Kong who, with his family, donated $8 million. Among the other private donations is $1.6 million from another Hong Kong graduate (Chemical Engineering, 59). This gift was made anonymously, to honour the memory of one of the donors teachers at McGill, Dr. J. B. Phillips, Professor of Chemical Engineering from 1931 to 1964. Several major Canadian companies and foundations, as well as alumni, faculty, staff and students have also contributed to the realization of the facility.