Duncan Watt answers questions about renovations to the University Centre

Q — What is the primary objective of the University Centre renovations?

A — The need to renovate and expand the University Centre was identified as a priority in the recently completed Campus Master Plan. The original building was completed in various stages during the 1960s and was designed to serve a much smaller student population. The objective is to transform the building into the central hub of campus that will serve not only as a student meeting space but as the main campus arrival centre. Long-term plans include a new campus green and arrival forecourt leading to the main entrance.

Q — What are some of the highlights of the new University Centre?

A — Highlights of the updated University Centre include a 10,000 sq. ft. Galleria space between the Tory Building and the University Centre; a new food court that will be twice the size of the current facility and will offer a variety of eating and seating options; new classrooms; and eventually a new bookstore. For me personally, a big highlight will be the replacement of those steep and dangerous stairs with a more gradual and graceful entrance and stairwell.

Q — Who was involved in the consultation process regarding the renovations?

A — We have a tenants committee that was consulted during the initial planning process. In addition we held five focus groups with a cross section of students to discuss ideas for both the Galleria and the food court. These were very helpful and brought up issues that the architects might not have considered. For example, students told us that the current configuration of the food court is too congested, not only in the cafeteria but outside at the entrance as well. They suggested another entrance from the Steacie side of the building would ease traffic and make the building more accessible. As a result of this discussion, we are planning to open up the entrance on the south side of the building and create a “main street” through the dining area. Students also suggested a variety of seating areas, longer opening hours, as well as computer connections, televisions, and music. These are all interesting ideas that we are, in fact, now implementing.

Q — What services will be moving out and what will be moving in?

A — There will be no change in the services housed in the University Centre this year. We are still in negotiations with CUSA regarding changes to the Oliver’s space to accommodate a new bookstore. Renovations to Oliver’s and the new bookstore will not take place until the summer of 2006.

Q — The main elevator will be renovated to provide better service. Was it ever considered to add a second elevator?

A — Yes. Our plan is to renovate the current elevator in the summer of 2006. In the meantime, we are still looking at options for a possible new elevator, but there are no simple solutions. We will be building an elevator to serve the three levels of new classrooms, but this will not provide access to other parts of the building. So, we are looking at the feasibility of two additional locations: on the north end of the building and in the airshaft beside the current elevator. However, because the building was constructed in stages over time and has various levels that don’t all connect, neither of the options can service all six floors. A third option is to build a connection from the new classroom elevator to the fourth level. We are currently obtaining concept estimates and will be meeting with CUSA and the GSA to discuss preferred locations and funding options.

Q — The University Centre is one of many big campus improvements in the last few years. Can we expect the trend to continue in the coming years as well?

A — We have three big projects underway on campus that will be completed in 2005: the Human Computer Interaction Building; the V-SIM research facility; and a two-pad ice arena. Off campus, both the Fire Research Facility in Almonte and the Surface Facility for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory will be completed this summer. I have also asked each of the Faculty Deans to submit proposals for additional academic buildings. But future developments will depend in large part on whether the provincial government decides to implement the Rae Report recommendations for capital expansion to accommodate a doubling of graduate enrolment.

From – http://www.now.carleton.ca/2005-04/728.htm

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