PM opens new Ernest Rutherford building at University of Canterbury

16 February 2018

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has officially opened the new Ernest Rutherford building at the University of Canterbury.

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    Stage 1 of the $220 million Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre, the Ernest Rutherford building was opened with fanfare and fireworks, in front of hundreds of invited guests, including Professor Mary Fowler, great-granddaughter of Lord Rutherford, UC’s famous alumnus.

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The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the College of Science, Professor Wendy Lawson gave a “UC future student” onesie to the Prime Minister, who is expecting her first child. The pounamu pendant she is wearing was presented to her by Te Maire Tau, Director of UC’s Ngai Tahu Research Centre.

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has officially opened the new Ernest Rutherford building at the University of Canterbury (UC).

Stage 1 of the $220 million Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre (RRSIC) at UC, the Ernest Rutherford building  was opened with fanfare and fireworks, in front of hundreds of invited guests, including Professor Mary Fowler, great-granddaughter of Lord Rutherford, UC’s famous alumnus. Professor Fowler, a geophysicist, has been Master of Darwin College, Cambridge, UK, since October 2012, and was guest of honour. 

As complex as a hospital to construct, with over 30 gases and liquids piped into many different laboratories, the new College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao building includes specialist teaching and research laboratories for physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, geography and biological sciences.

Over five floors there are numerous laboratories, a UAV/drone room, 3D medical imaging, a cloud chamber, radioactivity lab, a superconduction magnet lab and a herbarium.

UC Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr described the occasion as an exciting and historic day for the University.

“This building represents a significant investment by the Crown and the University following the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes when, in September 2014, the Crown signed a UC Futures agreement with the University to provide up to $260 million in funding for buildings that would accommodate the Colleges of Science and Engineering,” Dr Carr says.

“Ernest Rutherford is the first of two buildings for the College of Science, and contains teaching and research laboratories alongside postgraduate areas, informal learning and social spaces for chemistry, physics, astronomy, geography, geology and biology.”

UC Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the College of Science, Professor Wendy Lawson says it has been her privilege “to have led our staff over the last few years through the process of finalising the design of this amazing new science facility”.

“As always, it is what people do in buildings that is important to the University, and what’s important about this building is that it will enable us to do our research and teaching in different ways, and enable our students to be a different kind of graduate,” Prof Lawson says.

“By improving and expanding our students’ learning opportunities, we can equip them fully for the future, not only to thrive in the modern workplace, but to tackle the important issues facing the world today. The new facilities will enable over 150 academic staff and 50 technical staff to support the teaching and research of over 2,500 students for decades to come.  

“This is the future of science and we are excited to be at its leading edge.”

For further information please contact:

Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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