Construction near campus station. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.
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FSS, UCU among other buildings to see changes in 2016 and beyond

Students returning to school this September will be welcomed by a familiar sight—campus construction. And this time, some of it is here to stay for an extended period.

Alexander Latus, communications and special projects officer at the University of Ottawa, spoke to the Fulcrum about the summer construction projects and why he believes they serve an  important function in the U of O community.

“Whether it’s part of the master plan or just routine maintenance, keeping the campus running and moving forward takes hard work, vision, and definitely doesn’t take the summer off.”

Latus said that although the ongoing construction will affect students once classes begin, it is necessary.

“It’s a tense time when you’re a student and you don’t like construction, but everyone’s got their thing to do. Students have to learn and we have to make spaces for that to be possible.”

One improvement to the construction is that, effective Aug. 22, the campus station pedestrian tunnel has been reopened to the public. However, according to the City of Ottawa, campus station itself will remain closed until 2018 to make way for the new O-Train Confederation Line.

Many significant changes have come out of the summer construction as well. One of these changes is the creation of the University Square outside the Faculty of Social Sciences building. The square has been designed to accommodate roughly 3,000 people, and is intended for large events, concerts, and as a space for students to socialize.

The University Centre Terrace, another student space that underwent construction this summer, will be reopened this November.

“People used it as a small meeting space anyways and we saw that, so we wanted it to be built with that in mind,” said Latus, adding that the upgraded terrace can accommodate up to 1,200 people for events.

The Learning Centre is currently the largest and most visible project taking place on campus. It is an extension to the back of Lamoureux, and will feature a Food Services area, conference rooms, and interdisciplinary spaces for students. The centre is scheduled to open in 2017.

Seraphin-Marion has similarly been closed off due to construction. The building’s infrastructure is being revamped and the construction is set to be finished sometime this fall. Students with classes in the Academic Hall or Hagen will have to enter through the side or by crossing over from Tabaret Hall.

While Shalini Ramgoolam, a fourth-year conflict studies and human rights student, said she appreciates the fact that they’re renovating the campus and investing in the university’s future, she still doesn’t think that the plan is “the best use of funds.”

Ramgoolam commented that there is “not enough casual space” for the winter as most of the spaces are designed to be used outdoors in the summer. Given that Ottawa is cold for the majority of the school year, these new spaces such as the University Square would go unoccupied for months on end, Ramgoolam highlights.

One of Ramgoolam’s other lingering concerns is getting between classes given the paths that are closed off or narrowed.

“If you don’t know, then you have to reroute yourself,” she said.

Her final concern is the potential hazards the construction on Lamoureux can cause for students, especially since the pathway between Lamoureux and the Brooks residence has been significantly narrowed.

Students can find more information, including visuals and an interactive Google map of the construction, here.

Images: Courtesy University of Ottawa.