Special GroundBreaking Ceremony opens construction of Acceleration Consortium

November 14, 2023 by Alyx Dellamonica

U of T faculty and staff celebrated a historic ground breaking on November 7th, marking the construction start for an expansion of the Lash Miller Building on the St. George campus. This expanded building will serve as home to the Acceleration Consortium  while simultaneously improving facilities for the Department of Chemistry.

According to an article on the ceremony posted by A&S News, the AC's purpose is to accelerate the design and discovery of new materials, via a fusion of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, engineering and chemistry. The research was described as a cutting-edge approach to materials discovery by Melanie Woodin, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. “Now, 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. This expansion is truly about advancing the University’s mission of research and teaching excellence."

Department of Chemistry chair Mark Lautens and Acceleration Consortium director Alán Aspuru-Guzik also wielded shovels at the ceremony, speaking about the support received for the AC’s research, including a record-breaking grant of $200 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). The AC will be a showcase facility, and is expected to attract top talent in a still-emergent field of science and technology.

The Lash Miller Building expansion is set to be completed in the spring of 2026, and renovations to the Department of Chemistry facilities will include upgrades to labs, classrooms, faculty and administrative space. With improved spaces for research and innovation as well as the AC’s presence, said Lautens, “Our students will be prepared for the future, regardless of how that future unfolds.”

Read the Arts & Science Article on the groundbreaking here.