STM uses renovation to expand spaces in north wing for students

By in News
Students can now access the north entrance facing Place Riel.

St. Thomas More College is excited to unveil the newly expanded north wing of the building to students. Over 6,000 square feet have been added to the first and second floors during the 5-million-dollar expansion project, with student space at the forefront of the designs.

In May 2016, the renovations began with the intent to increase energy efficiency, improve accessibility and create more student- centred space. Students will benefit from greater accessibility in the building and from the expansions and upgrades to the Shannon Library, student lounge and club offices.

Donna Brockmeyer, library director at STM, had the opportunity to work with the architects of the project to help bring out the aesthetic element of the library. The integration of historic design and modern elements has culminated in a space that students, staff and community members can enjoy.

“[The Shannon Library] was a dated facility, and now it has a vision and it has a focus… Not to disparage what was here; it was a great library, but I think [the renovations have] really enhanced it and made it a more aesthetically pleasing space, a space that students gravitate towards and want to be in, and I think, will really enjoy,” Brockmeyer said.

The library has been expanded and upgraded to include the use of high-density shelving. This method of shelving allows all the books to be stored on one floor yet still accommodates room for students to study comfortably. The low shelves also allow for natural light to brighten the library, while the addition of a fireplace completes the space.

Choices cafeteria has also been expanded, but it remains connected to the student lounge. The north entrance now allows for easier access into the building, and the wall of windows opens up the lounge to natural light.

Derrin Raffey, chief financial officer and director of administration at STM, was one of the key overseers of the project. He discusses how the project integrated technology to increase the energy efficiency of the building.

The windowed wall creates a bright space for students to study in the lounge and library.

“We wanted to save and conserve as much energy as possible and lessen our carbon footprint on the campus and in the city. So, the renovation deals with that by allowing less airflow outside of the building with the new entrance [and] a new air handling unit, which is … much more efficient than what we had there before,” Raffey said.

Jackie Berg, director of communications and marketing at STM, explains that there has been considerable interest in the newly renovated spaces. She explains that she posted photos to the college’s social media accounts in August and received a positive response. “We had over 6,000 people look at it, and they were just super excited. We had so many [people who] made great comments. They said they wanted it to be their new [hangout], so it has actually built a lot of … re-interest into the college and excitement. It was nice to see that happening,” Berg said.

Jenna Casey, fourth-year honours student in history and political science and vice president communications of STM’s students’ union, hopes that all students will find these spaces useful and enjoyable, particularly the new student lounge, which will replace the previous lounge that was known as the Murray Room.

“The library is really awesome, but also … the student lounge, I think, is going to be great for students to come in and sit and relax… The Murray Room was awesome, but it was kind of hidden, it was a hidden gem, whereas [the new lounge] is right out in the open, and it’s a great space for everyone. Whether you’re [a] STM student or not, you can use it,” Casey said.

There will be a Grand Opening in the student lounge on Sept. 15 at 10:30 a.m. followed by tours for anyone who is interested in learning more about the renovation. These tours will feature the student-focused spaces, which Casey feels have filled a necessary gap present during the renovations.

“Not having the Murray Room last year, you noticed that there [were] more people studying in the Atrium and in the cafeteria,” Casey said. “But I think that this space will be a place that [students] can call their own, a kind of home away from home.”

Teevin Fournier

Photos: J.C. Balicanta Narag / Photo Editor