April 23, 2007
Legacy of female engineer is remembered in green building
An extraordinary green building will soon rise on the campus of the University of Western Ontario and carry the name of a woman who has left an indelible mark on engineering in Canada.
Western received a $5-million gift that will help build an engineering research facility dedicated to investigating climate change and the environment.
The gift from the Lassonde Family Foundation, the largest ever to the Faculty of Engineering, will support the construction of the facility — Western’s first-ever green building. The family’s gift honours the late Dr. Claudette MacKay-Lassonde who passed away in 2000. The four-storey building is expected to be completed by summer 2009.
Dr. MacKay-Lassonde became the first female president of the Association of Professional Engineers Ontario in 1986. From 1987 to 1988, she was a member of the National Advisory Board on Science and Technology.
Active in promoting engineering as an attractive career for women, she organized the first Canadian Convention of Women Engineers, founded the organization Women in Science and Engineering, and was instrumental in setting up the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation. Dr. MacKay-Lassonde advocated for professionalism and humanism in engineering throughout her career.
“This is a building that we anticipate will influence both the architectural and research landscapes of Western and southwestern Ontario,” said Western President Paul Davenport. “Today’s lead gift comes in honour of an incredible individual — a leader who exemplified the power of one individual to create change.”
“My mother believed in our responsibility to promote change that could build a better world,” said Christian Lassonde, a graduate of Western’s Faculty of Engineering and son of the late benefactor.
“At the core of this, she believed engineers have a responsibility to create or transform discoveries to bring about a better life for people. She believed the role of engineers should be as much based on humanism and social responsibility as in technology. This new building, named in her memory, is a perfect tribute to her ideals.”
The Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion will house research on green technologies, processes and materials and, at the same time, the building itself will feature the most advanced environmentally sustainable construction technologies and methodologies. It will be used as an active teaching tool and will be “monitored” in its performance.
“This building will become a living lab that will enhance Western’s student experience,” said Western’s Dean of Engineering, Franco Berruti. “The Lassonde family gift is remarkably generous, and especially as it is given in the name of someone who has so strongly contributed to the promotion of women in engineering.”
The Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion will also be a showcase for all things green. Western will, in the coming months, invite proposals from companies interested in providing green construction materials, furnishings and other environment-friendly effects for the building.
The Pavilion will be the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building on Western’s campus. There are only 14 LEED certified buildings in Ontario.
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