Raising the cornerstone of Norway’s largest university building: – A difficult birth

Raising the cornerstone of Norway’s largest university building: – A difficult birth

In February 2019, then-Prime Minister Erna Solberg (h) carried the first plant to the surface.

Four years later, Minister for Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe (Sp), together with Minister for Health and Welfare Ingrid Kjerkull (Ap), laid the foundation stone for the largest university building in the country, the Life Sciences Building.

– This is a project that passed a long time ago and, if I may say so, the birth was difficult. The satisfaction of standing on the edge of a masonry pit and seeing that what had long been a great chasm with many unanswered questions was now beginning to manifest itself there, but gradually began to see the contours of what this would actually be. Be, as Borten Moe tells Khrono.

Originally, the building was scheduled for completion in 2024, but the project faced many challenges. Statsbygg now aims to complete the building in the transition period from 2026 to 2027. Then the University of Oslo (UiO) and Oslo University Hospital (OUS) will move into the building.

State building

The life sciences building would likely be more expensive and delayed

It contains a variety of items

It wasn’t just laying any groundwork.

A number of elements have been placed within the red square to symbolize the subject areas that the building will contain.

There is a model of the hexane molecule, which is the basis for Odd Hassell’s Nobel Prize in 1969. There was also a model of the DNA molecule, which should show the importance of research for understanding health and disease, diagnosis and treatment.

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There was also a sample of UiO-66, a material developed at UiO, a tablet stamp symbolizing manufacturing and drug availability and a 3D-printed tablet computer, symbolizing new forms of treatment.

The last contribution was a memory chip with DALTON quantum chemistry software, which demonstrates the importance of informatics and computing science.

Great investment

Borten Moe says he hopes the $1 billion construction will have major positive consequences for Norwegian society.

– We bring together our leading knowledge environments, represented by UiO and OUS, in large, beautiful, modern and very expensive buildings, so that together they can achieve results in various fields that move the world forward and make my life and your life better and longer, – says Burton Mo.

– Construction costs were an important issue for you as minister. This is a project that will cost NOK 12.6 billion. Is it an amount you are happy with?

– It depends on what you are going to build. I think, and I hope, that we as a society will return to that investment in a number of ways. It is important to remind ourselves and the actors, be it Statsbygg or a university, that this is an exceptionally large individual investment that Norwegian society is making. This, of course, obliges the actors, including the Ministry of Education.

“The most important thing we do now is ensure the building is up and that you are able to maintain both the progress plan and the cost framework,” says Borten Moe.

The bedrock was filled with symbolic objects, like a hexane molecule and a 3D-printed plate.

More cost notches

Statsbygg’s client division manager, Marius Tonstad, can say that both the cost framework and the progress plan are on track.

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– We recently went through a new horizons analysis and are addressing these new cost frameworks with the Ministry, OUS and UiO. We feel like we’re on safe ground, but the building budget has clearly held during what was a very special time. The pandemic and material shortages due to the war in Ukraine have hit us hard, Tonstad says.

As Tonstad states, the building had a winding path towards completion.

When the Norwegian Parliament adopted the plans for the building in 2018, the cap was at NOK 6.145 billion. Three years later, in the fall of 2021, it became known that projected costs had increased by about NOK 5 billion and that the new cost framework totaled NOK 11.6 billion.

In 2020, the project was halted after a large quantity of quick clay was found at the construction site in Gaustadalléen. The solution was to bring in Oslo University Hospital as a new partner in the project, but that didn’t stop the price from increasing further.

At the board meeting in autumn 2022, it was revealed that the new cost gap would mean that the prestigious building would cost up to NOK 12.4 billion in total.

Director Sven Stollen believes the Life Sciences Building will become a hotbed of innovation and a hub for Oslo's Science City.

Director Sven Stollen believes the Life Sciences Building will become a hotbed of innovation and a hub for Oslo’s Science City.

It accommodates 1,500 students

There is still at least three years before the 1,500 students, 1,000 UiO employees, and 650 OUS employees move into the building.

UiO President Svein Stølen is clear that the building will be very important.

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– This is a strong point for part of our strong research internationally. We want to take advantage of the different subject areas, which are powerful in their own right, and connect these two topics together. As I say, this is not just a building, but a concept of how we can work in new ways, internally at the university, but also outside the university.

University of Oslo

The cost of the prestigious university building will be 5 billion more than planned

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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