New student residence to take shape


A new student residence is closer to reality with the recent selection of a location for the facility as well as the project architects.

The “preferred” site of the new building is located just west of the E.T. Clarke Centre, which houses the central utilities services including parking and security, and north of Thode Library. That site was chosen due to its large size, proximity to the western residence quad in order to service those students with a new dining hall in the building, and the opportunity to develop an appealing western entrance to campus.

“All three contractors that put in bids on this project agreed that that site is the preferred one,” said George Wesko, project manager. “We are currently undergoing a number of feasibility studies on that site to determine whether it is exactly what and where we want.”

Construction is expected to begin in late February or early March 2001. The new building is scheduled to be completed March 31, 2002.

The Board of Governors approved the appointment of the firm Moffat Kinoshita Architects for the project at their March 23 meeting. The firm has completed or are working on 11 similar projects for universities and colleges, including the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and two for the University of Western Ontario.

Additional living space is necessitated by an anticipated influx of students in 2003, when two classes of high school students will graduate in the same year. Coupled with demographic projections that indicate a 1-2 per cent increase in the 18-24 age group, the source of the majority of applicants, the University expects the number of applicants to double.

First-year students make up the majority of those living in residence. Currently, the University guarantees a space in residence to all entering students with a high school graduating average of 75 per cent or greater. That policy is expected to continue, so an additional residence is needed.

Current plans are for a seven-storey building with the majority of the 323 residence rooms located on the top five floors. The facility will also include a sizable cafeteria and dining hall, as well as a store and “Wellness Centre” on the first floor.

The Planning and Building Committee, which first approved the architects, agreed that the newly constructed Elgin Hall at Western, another Moffat Kinoshita project, exemplified several of the attributes sought for the new McMaster residence. They include:

* a design suitable for both student occupancy and conference use;

* facilities for physically challenged residents;

* dining facilities that offer diverse, healthy choices;

* emphasis on safety and security; and

* infrastructure support providing for the availability of study lounges, laundry facilities, as well as music and exercise rooms.

The project's chief architect, Andrew Nizielski, worked on the award-winning Mills Library extension.