posted on Nov. 29: Major facelift gives old building a new life


[img_inline align=”right” src=”” caption=”T-16″]From the outside, the building known as T-16 doesn't look much different. There are new shiny windows, but the stone work has been preserved; the friezes above the doors are there.

Step inside next May and you won't recognize it.

The former teachers' college, tucked behind the new Institute for Applied Health Sciences, has been gutted and is now undergoing extensive renovations that when completed, will make it a state-of-the-art facility for the Faculty of Engineering's expanded engineering software and electrical & computer engineering programs.

Built in the mid-1950s with an addition added on in the 1960s, the building was initially slated for complete demolition.

Instead, the University opted to preserve the exterior and renovate the interior.

Project manager George Wesko said the function and the layout of the building will be totally different once the $8.6-million renovations are finished. Funding for the renovations came from the SuperBuild fund, the Access to Opportunities program and the University.

Adapting an old structure to new uses is challenging, Wesko said, but the team working on the building has “overcome the challenges.”

“The difficult part comes when you try to integrate the old structure into the new uses,” he said. “There are different building materials being used and different building code requirements. It's going to be a beautiful building when it's done and a good technical building meeting the present and future needs of the users.”

The modernization of the 82,000 sq.-ft. building included ripping out all the existing mechanical and electrical systems and installing new systems, knocking down several walls, adding a penthouse on the roof to accommodate mechanical and ventilation equipment, including central air conditioning, and removing and replacing the roof's surface so that it will be insulated.

The building's former gymnasium is one example of an area that won't be recognizable when occupants start moving in. Bleachers were demolished and the two-storey high ceiling area was divided so that it is now two floors.

It took six weeks just to demolish the gym, said Wesko.

The auditorium is another area that's been given a major facelift including seat replacement, the stage removal and renovating the room into a large classroom.

When completed, the two-storey building will house several classrooms, computer software research labs, a conference room and post-doctoral fellows' and faculty offices.

About 135 computers were moved out of the building during renovations. Wesko said those will be moved back in and another 60 to 70 will be added.

The building's decorative terrazzo floor, which includes a large mural, is protected with wood and plastic and will shine again once renovations are complete.

“It is remaining as is,” said Wesko, “and it will be there when people move back in.”