The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Delayed Rutherford Rink demolition will pave the way for a new interdisciplinary facility

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A photo of the Engineering building sign placed in the lawn next to the building, taken September 25, 2020. THE SHEAF / Nicholas Saretzky

Along with renovations to older buildings on campus, the University of Saskatchewan will be replacing Rutherford Rink with a facility for students across different disciplines. 

The new building will encompass programs across engineering and the sciences and is set to begin construction around 2021. 

Judy Yungwirth, director of infrastructure planning and land development, says the U of S had to begin the project by building Merlis Belsher Place first. After the hockey program transitioned to the new rink in 2018, the university planned to move forward with the project.

“We were in a position to plan for the decommissioning of the two facilities and then with the ultimate goal of demolition — 2019 was meant to be our year where we were planning on that,” Yungwirth said. 

However, the demolitions are proving to be more complicated than originally anticipated, says Yungwirth. In addition to navigating complex engineering planning work, the university’s attention has also been divided by the other projects on campus. The projects competing for resources include the renovations to the Thorvaldson Building, the W.P. Thompson Building, the University Library, the Arts Building and the Physics Building.

These five buildings are part of an $85-million renovation project announced in 2018. The buildings, which have not had significant renovations in at least 40 years, are reportedly high priority due to a need for critical infrastructure. 

As for the engineering building, it has reportedly been 17 years since its last renovations. 

Given this, the construction of an interdisciplinary facility where Rutherford Rink stands still has a long way to go. The planning for the project has just been completed, and Yungwirth anticipates that a complete demolition of the rink, which is only the first part of the project, will occur either late this year or during the spring of 2021.

The second part of the project is starting implementation for the new building called IDEAS, which stands for innovation, design, engineering and applied sciences.

“Because we are still working on the plan for the new IDEAS building and there hasn’t been any approval for that project, we were still working with the dean of engineering [and] the provost’s office on what would be in the building and how it would be used,” Yungwirth said. 

The new facility will be designed to create interdisciplinary programs. The space will reportedly be composed of different disciplines and allow engineering students to work more efficiently rather than wandering around the campus looking for study spots.

Additionally, it is expected to follow environmentally friendly design and have roughly the same operating costs as Rutherford Rink.

Once a schedule is finalized for the demolition, the project will potentially require the temporary closing of Campus Drive and some changes to traffic patterns.

Although there is a long road ahead, Yungwirth is looking forward to the demolition, as it will mark the beginning for the IDEAS project. 

“The idea is very exciting,” Yungwirth said. “This is the last step of the creation of the new Merlis Belsher Place and it’s actually the first step of the creation of the new IDEAS building.”

Fiza Baloch | Staff Writer

Photo: Nicholas Saretzky

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