Dal plans rebuild of portion of Cox Institute as fire's toll assessed

- July 27, 2018

Photo from earlier this month of the damage to the Cox Building. (Faculty of Agriculture photo)
Photo from earlier this month of the damage to the Cox Building. (Faculty of Agriculture photo)

Dalhousie plans to rebuild a portion of one of its Agricultural Campus’s most important academic buildings after a major fire last month inflicted heavy damage to the inside of the structure and its contents.   

Preparations are underway now for the project to rebuild a section of the Cox Institute known as Old Cox. While structurally sound, the area needs to be overhauled inside due to contamination, humidity and water damage from the June 20 fire in which no one was hurt.

Read also: Cleanup continues after devastating Cox Institute fire (July 5)

The university put calls out last week for bids on the design and construction management of the project, which is expected to be get underway in late September with a target completion date of August 2019.

The early estimate range of the replacement costs for infrastructure, construction, furniture, fixtures, equipment and special equipment is in the range of $12 million to $25 million, depending on what is recoverable.

Preparing for the fall term

With the fall academic season approaching, the university has also begun the process of preparing in the nearer term for incoming students this September.

“It remains a priority for us all to continue to meet the needs of our students,” said David Gray, dean of the Faculty of Agriculture.

While some faculty and staff were able to tour a different section of the building known as New Cox in person in early July, safety concerns have ruled out such access to Old Cox.

Instead, insurance adjusters, procurement staff and three department chairs toured Old Cox Monday to agree on contents and create a photographic catalogue of items in each room that faculty and staff will have a chance to review in order to determine if items are retrievable or need replacing.

The process will help speed up the purchase of priority equipment and supplies for teaching and research for the coming academic year.

“We are putting a considerable amount of hard work and resources into ensuring this recovery happens as smoothly and quickly as possible,” says Ian Nason, vice-president of finance and administration at Dal.

It is expected that much of teaching and research equipment Old Cox, unless in a sealed package or container, will not be salvageable. All computer hard drives from the area have been sent to an expert group for data retrieval, and key equipment has been transported to temporary leased space where it will be cleaned.

Meeting campus needs

The majority of classes and labs this fall will remain on campus, but the university is also in the process of securing leased space off campus to meet research and office needs for the 2018-19 academic year. Transportation will be provided to this off-campus location.

This week, a large hoop house greenhouse will be constructed on campus in the demonstration garden area to be used for fall planting required for teaching.

"While we continue to transition into this recovery and restoration phase of our response to the fire in Cox Institute, we remain committed to communicating and answering your questions to the best of our ability," said Dean Grey.

The cause of the late-night fire is still under investigation.


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