Nowadays, lengthy detours and ducking construction workers are just as much a part of campus life as term papers and exams for most University of Saskatchewan students.
In recent years, the U of S has undergone the largest facelift in its 100-year history. Since 1999 when Peter MacKinnon took the lead as President, more than $1 billion has been steered toward infrastructure.
We’ve seen the cranes go up, navigated the Place Riel maze and avoided the Bowl for the past two years. Here is a look at why, and at what those inconveniences will yield.
Academic Health Sciences: D Wing
Construction began in fall 2008 and is projected to be complete by early 2012.
Originally contracted to Graham Construction for $127.9 million.
Total estimated cost: $157 million.
The overhaul of the health sciences centre is unquestionably the university’s largest current undertaking, with the D Wing expansion set to be fully functional in the new year. First approved by the Board of Governors in Dec. 2005, the facility is designed to bring together all the health science departments in order to foster interdisciplinary teaching and research. The space will be used primarily by the colleges of medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, nutrition, dentistry and physical therapy.
The 17,765-square-metre D Wing wraps around the west and north sides of the existing Health Sciences Building across Campus Drive from the Murray Library, and will house bio-containment research labs, office and support space and a animal research facility. Tying into the Arts tunnel, an underground walkway is being built that will connect the D wing to Place Riel.
Academic Health Sciences: E Wing
Construction began in fall 2009 and is projected to be complete by mid 2013.
Originally contracted to PCL Construction for $83.5 million.
Total estimated cost: $121.3 million.
The E wing — situated at the corner of College Drive and Wiggins Avenue — is the second phase of the massive health sciences revamp. The new 24,000-square-metre addition will be home to the first 500-seat lecture theatre on campus, a two-storey state-of-the-art library, four floors of offices, graduate student space, clinical teaching labs and an underground parking lot.
Once complete, the E Wing will be the largest part of Health Sciences and will connect the new complex with the College of Dentistry and the Royal University Hospital via an atrium similar to the Geology and Agriculture Buildings.
International Vaccine Centre (InterVac)
Construction began in fall 2009 and is projected to be complete by early 2012.
Originally contracted to PCL Construction for $110 million.
Total estimated cost: $140.3 million.
Just off Preston Avenue on Perimeter Drive, the crane is retracted and most of the hammers have come to a halt. All that is left to be done on the new International Vaccine Centre are the finishing touches. The centre has been developed collaboratively by the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, the College of Medicine and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
According to the university’s website, “The bio-containment facility will be one of the largest vaccine research laboratories in North America and will make Canada a world leader in vaccine research and development for diseases as diverse as hepatitis C, SARS, HIV, tuberculosis, and avian influenza.”
InterVac will also be the first lab in Western Canada to do research on both animal and human infectious diseases.
College Quarter undergraduate student residence: Phase one
Construction began in winter 2009 and is projected to be complete by early 2012.
Originally contracted through a joint partnership between the U of S, the City of Saskatoon and Meridian Development Corp. for $35.9 million.
More than 250 U of S undergraduates are gearing up to be the first to live at College Quarter, as the first phase of the master plan will be ready for the fall semester. Just off Cumberland Avenue behind the Stadium Parkade, Spruce Hall and Aspen Hall are both five-storey apartment style residences, each with approximately 200 beds. By January 2012, both should be full.
The majority of the dormitories are furnished, with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a granite countertop kitchen and a living room. Each building also has lounges, study rooms and laundry facilities.
The next phase of the project includes two more similar residences, bringing the total of new student beds up to 800.
Place Riel Student Centre Expansion / Renovation
Construction began in spring 2009 and is projected to be complete by late 2011.
Originally contracted to PCL Construction for $28.5 million.
Total estimated cost: $29 million.
Since Place Riel was built in 1980, the student population on campus has grown by 50 per cent. It became obvious a few years ago that the student centre was in dire need of a makeover. Several USSU executives tried to rejuvenate the aging building but it wasn’t until three years ago that it could actually be done, thanks in part to a $44 infrastructure levy added to USSU fees for all undergraduate students.
Now, the renovation and expansion funded by students is finally starting to take shape.
The four-storey add-on has created 3,200 square metres of office space and meeting areas. Early this spring, the USSU officially moved into its new offices in Upper Place Riel and the new student council chambers were unveiled. Workers are currently finishing up the third and fourth floors, which will be used by the Student Health Centre and student counselling services.
Lower Place Riel now houses both more food outlets and a larger computer store, and includes a new Global Commons for international students.
As funding for these large capital projects primarily comes from the provincial government, we can assume that as long as Saskatchewan is booming, the university will be as well.
Prior to the construction phase, major campus projects must first progress through pre-planning and then design phases.
Right now, designs are being drawn up for the Gordan Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre, a Diefenbaker Building rejuvenation and the College Quarter graduate student residences.
Pre-planning is being done for the Clarion Project and both the A and B Wings of the Health Sciences Complex.
photos: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf