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After Thirty-Nine Years

By A.G. McCalla

About 1929 (a year or so either way makes no real difference) a skit was staged at the annual Ag. banquet. The subject was the official opening of the Agriculture Building on the campus at the University of Alberta. The date? 1970.

Whether or not the Ags. of those days were as pessimistic as this sounds, the fact remains that 25 of the predicted 41 years have passed, but October 29 this year saw the official opening of the Agriculture Building.

The Faculty of Agriculture was organized in 1915, graduated its first class in 1918, but has never had a building to call its own until now. Most of our visitors speak of the “new” Ag. Building. Usually this tag “new” infers replacement, but former Ags. will all agree that this building does not replace any “old” Ag. Building. There has never been one. Just how true this is can be determined from the following notes:

The Agriculture Building houses the Department of Animal Science, Plant Science, and Soil Science (Soils to most of you), and the Dean’s office. Its 56,000 square feet of floor space is 40% or so more than has been in use by these departments all over the campus. The occupants of this building moved in from nine other buildings — count them: Arts Building (Dean), North Lab., Med. Building, Power Plant, West Lab., Horticulture Building, and Huts E, G, and H. The Department of Animal Science had space in four buildings. The Department of Plant Science had three stenographers — each in a different building.

The picture on the cover of this issue shows the modern design of the building. We think we have one of the choice (many think the “one of” can be omitted) locations on the campus. The views from the upper floors are magnificent, particularly towards the north over the river bank. We have no regrets that, under the recently announced plan for future development of the campus, we will be at the back door.

We are all agreed that the building gives us facilities that are not surpassed by those of any other faculty. While the efficient use of the space played the most important part in dictating the interior arrangement and finish, the architects succeeded in giving us what we asked for and at the same time made the interior very attractive. Dry wall construction, using plywood, predominates, and the whole design affords a greater flexibility of use than in any other building on the campus. Space prohibits any detailed description, but a few notes on the arrangement may be of interest.

The Department of Animal Science occupies the whole fourth floor. The offices of all staff members are consolidated in one area on the north side of the building.

Student and research laboratories occupy considerable space, but the most impressive gains by this department are three animal rooms and a large walk-in refrigerator and deep freeze. The animal rooms are designed to handle chicks, rats, and rabbits and will be used in the extensive research program under way. Conditions in the animal rooms are completely controlled and the ventilating system of the area is isolated from that of the remainder of the building.

The Department of Plant Science occupies all of the third floor and about half of the first. Students and research laboratories for each of the major divisions offer facilities hitherto unavailable. This is particularly true of the research laboratories where refrigerator space, temperature-control rooms, dark rooms and fume cupboards are adequate for the first time.

The second floor accommodates most of the Department of Soil Science and the Dean’s office. The remaining space for Soil Science is on the first floor in close association with the offices and laboratories of the Alberta Soil Survey. Adequate, well-designed storage space is a feature of this accommodation. The large undergraduate student laboratory brings sighs of envy from every Ag. graduate who sees it.

There are a number of other special features. There are washrooms on every floor and a shower in the first floor washroom. All lockers and coat racks are recessed into the corridor walls so that the nine-foot corridors are really nine feet wide. Lecture rooms, offices, and corridors have acoustic-tile ceilings and all floors except in the chemical laboratories are finished with linoleum or rubber tile.

The other departments of the Faculty must not be forgotten. The Department of Dairying has expanded in the South Lab into space vacated by Civil Engineering. Refitting of this space is nearing completion and gives the Department about double the working area it had before.

The Department of Agricultural Engineering will expand into space vacated by other departments in the North Lab. This year only extra office space is available, but much-needed changes will be made next summer.

Only one department is left — Entomology — and “left” is the right word. Originally it had been included in the planning of the building but after the first tenders were rejected the total space had to be reduced. Entomology was the victim. So the Faculty of Agriculture still holds a little space in the Medical Building. We hope that more adequate provision will soon be made for this Department.

August 16, 1954, will remain an important date in the memories of many of us, because on that day we began to move into the Agriculture Building. To us who now “live” here, this was a much more important event than the official opening on October 29. After 39 years, the Faculty of Agriculture has a home.

Published Fall 1954.

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