While you were gone…

Posted on Monday, August 29, 2016

Aerial photo of campus construction with three cranes and trees and buildings in the background.

A bird’s eye view of the many construction projects on campus shows the tent at University Square and cranes working on the Learning Centre.

By Alexander Latus

uOttawa may not be as big as Rome, but it too wasn’t built in a day. In fact, it’s still not finished: as the University community continues to grow and evolve, so must our campus. Whether it’s implementing the master plan or just routine maintenance, efforts to keep the campus running and moving forward take hard work, vision — and definitely no summer break. While some projects will wrap up this fall or even in the coming years (bear with us), here’s an overview of what Facilities got done this summer. Welcome home!

New buildings for new learning

If you’ve been wondering what the big orange tarp over the back of Lamoureux is for, that’s where it will join with the new Learning Centre. The 1,360-seat extension will add modern study rooms, collaborative spaces and even a food services area on the first floor. Built from the (under)ground up, the building is about halfway done: the basement and first floor were completed this summer. Facilities also began preparing the site for a new building that will finally replace MacDonald Hall and the Cube. More on that soon!

Green spaces

University Square, one of the most visible projects on campus over the past year, opened to the public in mid-July. Disguised among the newly planted trees and shrubs nestled around the event space are anchors for a marquis tent, one large enough for Convocation, galas or festivals of up to 3,000 people! Some of the plants will take years to mature, but in time a total of 52 trees, 579 shrubs and 720 ornamental grasses and perennials will decorate the space.

Another space due for an upgrade, the terrace outside of 1848 (and its infamous “pit”) is no more! Still under construction, the new UCU Terrace will offer a dynamic assembly area with beautiful new lights and landscaping; a fifth of the new surface area will be dedicated to greenery. If it’s too cold for planting when the project is completed this fall, the landscaping will take place next spring.

Recycling in the residences

Not only do we touch up the residences every summer, but the Office of Campus Sustainability and its volunteers also collect and donate whatever items have been left behind. Dump and Run program goods are sorted, cleaned and distributed to various local charities and the Free Store so they can be reused by those who need them. You might not think they find much, but since 2008 we’ve collected nearly 35 tonnes of items — that’s approximately the weight of 13 elephants!

Hitting the gym… and the pool

The beach season may be coming to a close, but you can still cool off in the freshly-maintained Montpetit pool. From late April to early June, the pool was drained and covered in scaffolding, as we carefully checked it over and did maintenance, even touching up the diving tower and installing new ceiling lights. To make sure our Gee-Gees hit the ground running this session, we also spent some time in Montpetit sanding, repairing and re-varnishing the gymnasium floor.

Keeping things on track

Some of you may have left for the summer by the time it happened, but Campus Station is no more! (So make sure you figure out your transit options and get off at Laurier!!) On campus, we’ll have to accommodate the LRT by rebuilding the west-facing entrances to Vanier and Marion so they face away from the site.

Renovation for innovation

Unseen by those of us on the main campus, there’s a lot going on over at Roger Guindon! Roughly 60 office spaces were renovated over the course of the summer to accommodate the construction and fit-up of four laboratories; work on the labs began June 1 and is expected to continue into 2018. We’ve also upgraded a number of classrooms and common spaces in Colonel By, Desmarais, 200 Lees and 100 Laurier over the past few months.

Keeping a roof over our heads

Roofing projects are a common summer sight in Ottawa, and it’s no different here on campus. While routine, new roofs are necessary to protect uOttawa’s facilities and equipment — and, you know, keep us dry. It may not be the most exciting work, but nobody likes a leaking roof… Since May, we’ve replaced the Leblanc, Brooks and Colonel By roofs. The replacement of the Montpetit roof (and some of its skylights) is still underway, and the D’Iorio roof replacement will start soon.

Watching our steps

It may seem hard to believe, but, with over 40,000 people moving around campus, even cement steps eventually need some tender loving care. Sometimes they weaken and sometimes they leak, but, whatever the reason, they often have to be completely replaced to address the problem. That was the case this summer with some of the steps outside Morisset and the UCU. We redid and insulated the stairwells leading to the Brooks underground parking, too.

Summer storm drains

You’ve probably noticed the construction next to Tabaret and wondered why the street is blocked off. Since mid-May we’ve been working with the City of Ottawa to update the Séraphin Marion sewers, storm drains and water mains; dating back to 1875, some of the pipes were made of wood! The project should be completed this fall after some new landscaping.

Utilities and sustainability

To help you keep your cool during midterms, a new chilled water system, an alternative to traditional air conditioning, was placed below Morisset in August to better supply the northern end of campus with cold air; the installation should be completed by early 2017. We also began retrofitting and optimizing the building systems in Colonel By and Biosciences to make them more efficient and reduce the cost of utilities on campus!

Learn more about campus retrofits.

Exam time for the campus

The (slightly) quieter summer is a good time for us to step back and assess the campus. This year, to improve uOttawa’s level of accessibility, we hired a team of auditors to help examine our spaces over the next two years and review our adherence to accessibility standards; we’ve conducted accessibility audits on over a dozen buildings on campus since we began in April.

Alexander Latus is Communications and Special Projects Officer at Facilities.

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