Campus Construction Projects Get Underway

Summer renos to improve living, working experience on campus

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Beginning this summer, Lambton Hall will undergo a year-long $12-million renovation to offer more suite-style accommodation and greater washroom privacy for student residents.

From a new entryway planned at one end of campus to a major residence makeover occurring at the other, several construction and renovation projects at U of G beginning this spring will upgrade buildings and improve grounds and infrastructure, says Don O’Leary, vice-president (finance and administration).

The projects include needed improvements to research and teaching facilities and to student housing and dining spaces, he says. Along with landscaping and grounds projects beginning this spring – notably upgrades to Branion Plaza and construction of an entryway parkette at Stone Road and Gordon Street – the work will help strengthen U of G’s distinctive identity and prepare the campus for the University’s 50th anniversary in 2014.

Renovations will also improve accessibility to buildings and campus areas, says O’Leary. “These are projects intended to further enhance the University’s reputation, and improve the physical environment and experience of the campus.” He says the building and grounds initiatives mesh with aspects of the campus master plan approved early this year by the Board of Governors.

Creelman Hall will undergo a $4.4-million facelift inside and out this summer. About $2.9 million of that total will come from Hospitality Services to renovate the building’s dining and kitchen facilities. The remainder will pay for external improvements, including new windows.

That work is part of a five-year capital plan approved by the board for building upkeep on campus. Last renovated in 1992, Creelman is used by about 400 people each day during the fall and winter semesters.

Also under that capital plan, funding allocated to campus accessibility projects will pay for renovations this summer to War Memorial Hall. In this $500,000 project, workers will install new accessible washrooms and an elevator. Erected in 1924, the building and its 600-seat lecture theatre holds numerous classes and events year-round.

This year’s most extensive project will see Lambton Hall refitted to provide more contemporary residence accommodations. Built in 1967, the four-storey residence houses 425 students in mostly double rooms, with communal washrooms. Following a year-long renovation, the building will offer more suite-style accommodation and greater washroom privacy for 384 people.

The $12-million project will be paid for through a reserve fund accumulated by Student Housing Services.

As Lambton will be closed during construction, fewer beds will be available on campus in 2013-2014. Until the residence reopens in fall 2014, the University will provide some of that lost residence space by renovating 78 College Avenue, which is mostly student family accommodation; relocating beds temporarily in other residences; and permitting entering students to live in East Village townhouses.

Last fall, construction began on a $3-million addition to the Crop Science Building. That project will expand the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre (BDDC) this year to about 6,000 square feet; the existing facility opened in 2008 is about half that size.

The University received $2 million from FedDev Ontario for the expansion; about $900,000 in additional funding will pay for equipment. BDDC researchers study bio-based materials as alternatives to petroleum-based products for the automotive and building sectors.

With an eye to next year’s 50th-anniversary celebrations, the University will undertake landscaping and grounds initiatives in three prominent locations around campus. All three projects will cost a total of less than $1 million, to be funded mostly by donors and the University, says O’Leary.

Branion Plaza will receive a facelift this year, and grounds staff will upgrade landscaping outside War Memorial Hall at College Avenue and Gordon Street.

A new U of G entryway will be constructed at the high-traffic corner of Stone Road and Gordon Street. A parkette designed by MHBC Planning in Kitchener, Ont., will be installed this summer, including new walkways, plantings, seating and lighting. A new U of G sign will also be erected at the site.

Also planned for the entryway is a new piece of sculpture to be installed in 2014. The cost of the sculpture – not part of the $1-million cost of all three grounds projects – will be funded by donors. “The whole idea is to emphasize the identity of the University – that you’re somewhere special,” says O’Leary.

This summer, workers will also improve drainage around the University Centre and refurbish the southern portion of Winegard Walkway adjoining the Thornbrough Building, which has seen extensive upgrades.