Faculty of Science
1962 - 1966, Ministry of Works
Chemistry, Physics and Library - $2,957,136
Lecture Block, Maths/Psychology - $1,142,470
Geology, Botany and Zoology - $1,520,986
For further detail and more images related to the Science buildings please click here
The science complex was built in three stages by three separate contractors.
Stage 1 - Chemistry, Physics and the Physical Sciences library were built by Williamson Construction Company
Stage 2 - Mathematics and Psychology Departments and the Science Lecture Theatres were built by John Calder Limited
Stage 3 - Botany, Geology, Zoology and Geography were built by Fletcher Construction Company
Chronicle notice, March 1963
By February 1963 the buildings were beginning to take shape. The Stage 1 basement level was complete and work was proceeding on the ground level of the Physics department. Stage 2 had considerable pre-cast work completed and the first level of the lecture theatre block was close to completion. Stage three had been contracted out later than the other two, however the foundations were laid and the outline of the building was visible.
By this stage the construction was stirring the interest of the students and others in the neighbourhood who were taking it upon themselves to investigate the building site.
The first section of the Faculty of Science buildings was completed in 1965 and the move from the city site began in October 1965 with the Department of Geology. The move involved around 80 teachers, 1200 students and hundreds of tons of equipment and was likely the most complex moving operation ever undertaken in Christchurch at this time.
The move was a relief for staff and students in terms of space. The town site had been badly congested for years and the Department had been divided in location around the central city campus. The Science faculty at the town site had been occupying a space of 68,000 square feet, while the new site had over 400,000 square feet.
A fish-eye view of the Science area
Opinions on the new science buildings varied. Many teachers were pleased to move into spacious, purpose-built structures, however some viewed them as "the bleak and brutal spaces of the new University at Ilam...this graceless conglomerate of materials and building types".
Extract from A History of the University of Canterbury, 1873 - 1973. p.357
Physical Sciences Library (now the Student Services building) from two angles
In 1971 the eight-storey chemistry/physics building was named the Ernest Rutherford building