ņů÷¶ ”∆Ķ≥…»ňapp T breaks ground on a new home for the Acceleration Consortium
The ņů÷¶ ”∆Ķ≥…»ňapp recently held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the expansion of the Lash Miller building on the St. George campusŐż‚Äď a place that will serve as the new home of theŐżŐżwhile providing improved facilities for theŐżdepartment of chemistry.
launched in 2021, the Acceleration Consortium fuses artificial intelligence, robotics, engineering and chemistry to accelerate the design and discovery of new materials.
Using self-driving laboratories powered by AI, the consortium works to discover materials needed to build a more sustainable, prosperous and healthy future.Őż
‚ÄúThe research being done at the Acceleration Consortium is a cutting-edge approach to materials discovery,‚ÄĚŐżsaid Melanie Woodin, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. ‚ÄúNow, more than ever, we need such new technologies to help solve the world's most existential and intractable problems, from climate change to plastics pollution to cancer.
‚ÄúThis expansion is truly about advancing the university‚Äôs mission of research and teaching excellence.‚ÄĚ
The university earlier this year received a grant of $200 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF)Őż‚ÄďŐżtheŐżlargest federal research grantŐżever awarded to a Canadian universityŐż‚Äď to support the Acceleration Consortium‚Äôs research.
‚ÄúDeveloping such innovative technologies is made possible by the federal government's visionary investment. This grant allows us to do big science, ensuring Canada remains competitive on the international stage,‚ÄĚ said Woodin.
The building expansion will also include renovations to the department of chemistry, with upgrades being made to labs, classrooms and faculty and administrative space to provide students and scientists with enhanced facilities for research, learning and innovation.
‚ÄúI've watched the plans emerge from both the department and the Faculty side, and it's really an amazing project,‚ÄĚ said Mark Lautens, chair of the department of chemistry. ‚ÄúThe self-driving labs are the cornerstone of the AC, but there will be new lecture theatres and some amazing meeting spaces for chemistry that will figure very prominently in the design.
‚ÄúOur students will be prepared for the future, regardless of how that future unfolds.‚ÄĚ
Robert Batey, former chair of the department of chemistry, also reflected on the origins of the project, the founding of the Acceleration Consortium and the initial success in enlistingŐżAl√°n Aspuru-Guzik, director of the consortium, to lead ņů÷¶ ”∆Ķ≥…»ňapp T‚Äôs efforts in the emerging field of machine learning-guided materials development.
‚ÄúThis project really has been a long time in gestation. In 2017, we saw an opportunity to take advantage of a nascent and emerging field of science and technology, which is AI and machine learning, and how it might be applied to, and enabled by, chemistry and automation,‚ÄĚ BateyŐżsaid.
The revolutionary work being done at the Acceleration Consortium will be key in positioning Canada as a world leader in materials discovery, with a state-of-the-art space that will not only house this important work, but also attract top tier talent.
‚ÄúThe AC building represents a new global era where countries are looking inward while at the same time collaborating with each other,‚ÄĚ said Aspuru-Guzik. ‚ÄúWe're building a team of people who are going to be able to take advantage of this new space and of the federal grant to move the needle and make Canada the leader in materials discovery.‚ÄĚ
The Acceleration Consortium considers and includes contributions from several other disciplines of study in its work.
‚ÄúWe are very excited that this project is also integrated with Canadian society in such areas as Indigenous scholarship, social sciences and economics,‚ÄĚ said Aspuru-Guzik. ‚ÄúMaterials discovery has to do with everything, and impacts society in a very complex way.‚ÄĚ
Anna Kennedy, chair of ņů÷¶ ”∆Ķ≥…»ňapp T‚Äôs Governing Council, acknowledged the impact the consortium has already made at the university.
‚ÄúSince its launch, and under the expert guidance of Al√°n and other brilliant scholars, the AC has solidified itself as one of the university‚Äôs most impressiveŐżinstitutional strategic initiatives and as the embodiment of the ņů÷¶ ”∆Ķ≥…»ňapp‚Äôs capacity to support large-scale, high-impact interdisciplinary research.‚ÄĚ
Woodin also noted the importance of philanthropy in leveraging the historic support from the federal government and investment by industry partners.
‚ÄúInspired giving by donors will enable us to build a contemporary space that will attract talent that's needed to advance the goals of the Acceleration Consortium, which will have major economic benefits for the Greater Toronto Area and for Canada,‚ÄĚ she said.
The Lash Miller building expansion is set to be completed in the spring of 2026. The complex project is being delivered through an integrated design team led by the university‚Äôs Planning, Design & Construction (UPDC) portfolio and a collaboration between Canadian firm Cumulus Architects and Danish firm Mikkelsen Architects, among other firms specializing in key areas of the project design and technical specifications.
The construction will be completed by Urbacon.