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University of Regina campus buzzing with several construction projects

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: April 30, 2021 2:00 p.m.

Project-specific COVID safety plans were developed to ensure that construction projects on campus could safely proceed.
Project-specific COVID safety plans were developed to ensure that construction projects on campus could safely proceed. Photos: Facilities Management

Over 60 renovation and upgrade projects covering 60,000 square feet of campus have been completed since last spring when COVID-19 resulted in very few people being on campus. Of these projects: 

  • 43% have addressed deferred maintenance, infrastructure, and health and safety;
  • 43% have upgraded teaching space;
  • 24% have upgraded student and community space; and,
  • 12% have upgraded research space.

While the majority of students, faculty, and staff have been studying and working from home over the past year, Facilities Management has been hard at work on the almost-empty campus. As students begin to slowly return to campus, as it is safe to do so, they can expect to see several refreshed classrooms, labs, and study spaces around the University. Approximately $16 million in renovations and upgrades have been completed, and many of the projects have helped address the over $200 million deferred maintenance priorities that are currently on campus. With more than 60 projects taking place, the university has optimized campus sustainability, including upgrades to key areas such as ventilation, lighting, and heating and cooling.

Classroom-Building-before-and-after.jpg
Before and after photos (top to bottom)
of the renovation to a lecture theatre in
the Classroom Building.

 

Neil Paskewitz, Associate Vice-President (Facilities Management), says the vacant space has been a unique opportunity that has allowed several upgrades and renovations to be completed across the campus.    

“During a typical year, we can have up to 20,000 people coming on to campus every single day,” says Paskewitz. “A lot of our projects are done on the evenings and weekends, and they need to have a quick turnaround time to minimize the noise and disruption for our students. Having a campus that was almost completely empty enabled us to complete several larger-scale projects that will really have a positive impact for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus.” 

Facilities Management staff also spent a significant amount of time assessing hundreds of classrooms and labs throughout the campus to ensure there was sufficient ventilation and that students and instructors could socially distance. This enabled a small amount of students to return to campus in the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters for certain studio and lab classes. 

Ensuring that it was safe for trades and construction staff to be working on campus was also a top priority for the Facilities Management team. Project-specific COVID safety plans were developed to clearly identify the requirements for each job site to safely operate, such as proper PPE and disinfection, access control, coordination of trades and schedules to avoid bottlenecks, and communications with others working in the building. Once these controls were in place, Facilities Management was confident that it was safe to proceed. 

The Saskatchewan Construction Association has since released a video where industry professionals discuss how their jobs, and the construction industry, have changed over the past year. They also explain the new safety procedures they have put in place to ensure construction workers stay safe on the job at project sites. 

The Education Building has undergone the most significant amount of upgrades over the past year, with two projects already completed and ten projects in progress. One of the more significant projects is an upgrade and expansion of the existing Faculty of Engineering machine shop and services. It will now better serve students as a laboratory workshop space. The expansion of the workshop services will result in high-quality fabrication facilities for research with improved safety measures. 

In addition, the new student-accessible shop space will safely allow students to utilize the facility and provide an enhanced educational experience. This is particularly important for capstone design and project courses, a final year requirement for all engineering programs. Workshop facilities will allow students to build, test, revise, and improve their design concepts. 

Lecture theatres are one of the most difficult spaces to do upgrades in, due to the class sizes and number of times they are used per day. So far, two lecture theatres in the Classroom Building have received significant upgrades, with new seating, new LED lighting, and over 5,000 square feet of flooring being replaced. The two spaces have also received several enhancements to make them more accessible with the installation of power door operators, more wheelchair-accessible seating, handrails down both sides of the room, and a slip-resistant finish on the floors. The Facilities Management team plans to do similar upgrades to three more lecture theatres in the Classroom Building this summer. 

“We are proud of the work that our team has done to make the most of a difficult situation and safely complete a large number of projects,” says Paula Matz, Director of Planning, Design & Construction. “When the community can safely return to campus, I think everyone will be pleased to see the positive changes made over this past year.” 

In Paskwāw Tower student residence, a number of dorm rooms joined by a single washroom have been converted into self-contained studio suites. This conversion will allow more students living on campus to have their own kitchen, washroom, and private living space. 

paskwaw-tower-studio-suite-conversion.jpg
One of the new studio suites in the
Paskwāw Tower student residence

 

Many of the renovations and upgrades completed over the past year have focused on the University’s ongoing commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. One such project was a complete washroom renovation in the Centre for Kinesiology, Health, and Sport, creating a gender-neutral, wheelchair-accessible washroom/change room to better accommodate the members of The Big Sky Centre for Learning and Being Astonished Inc. as well as the general public. 

As part of our 2020-25 strategic plan All Our Relations, or kahkiyaw kiwȃhkomȃkȃninawak in Cree, the University of Regina commits to bolstering our education and research activities to positively influence a culture of sustainability through Environment & Climate Action.  

Further information on actions the University has taken to achieve its sustainability goals is available in the Final Report: 2015-20 Strategic Plan for Sustainability. 

 

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