author: matt wincherauk | editor-in-chief
Accessibility and a fresh coat of paint for the federated college
As students can attest, it seems like the Campion College renovations have been going on forever. However, they can now rejoice; Campion’s renovations are nearly finished, and as students might have seen at the beginning of December, the road running alongside the college and the Kīšik Towers has also been finished.
While they are still finishing up the last of their projects, this marks the end of the majority of construction for Campion’s Building Enhancement Project that was designed to provide greater accessibility for students, and provide updated functionality to the college.
Director of Facilities and Operations Ken Yanko, as well as Director of Communication and Marketing Joanne Kozlowski, were gracious enough to give the Carillon a tour of the new area, including the nearly finished pedestrian corridor that is still under construction.
While Campion College was established in 1917, the building that many people associate with the college was constructed in 1968, and has stayed largely the same during that time. As Yanko started the tour in the area where the new stairwell had been built, he made note of how important it was that the facilities received an upgrade.
“When this first started years ago, we had a funding request for a primary objective, which was an old elevator, which was horribly in need of attention. So we started with a building condition assessment report. We then began to look at code compliance of the building, which was over 50 years old,” Yanko told the Carillon.
“Around the same time the Kīšik Towers were being built, a street was also being developed where all there used to be was a parking lot. We deemed that replacing the elevator in its current location was not a viable option, because it was a tremendous amount of destructive work right where it was.”
With the understanding that more work would have to be done in order to construct the new elevator the right way, Campion began to look into other options, which eventually led to the idea of re-locating the elevator to where the college’s old stairwell was located, and building a new stairwell at the front of the building.
“What we determined was that we could re-locate our elevator to what was the old north stairwell. To do that, we had to re-create a new stairwell outside the building, which provided us with an opportunity to look at interfacing it to the new street, and suddenly, the project started to take life,” said Yanko.
“To add to that, during the course of that project being developed, designed and constructed, we began discussions jointly with the university about a need to connect the two buildings, which would provide pedestrian connections with the underground corridor. In addition, it would also serve dual purpose for utility connections, which is badly needed for future developments. So a lot of value-added thinking started coming together, and we were able to put this all together.”
While the connecting corridor between the Kīšik Towers and Campion College has not been completed yet, Kozlowski did confirm that the college expected that final part of the renovations to be completed in February.
Moving through the underground part of the building, Yanko made note of how important it was that utilities like piping were updated during the construction. In doing so, it would allow for “future development down the road, and support the infrastructure of the new areas,” as Yanko noted.
Travelling through the underground area, the next stop on the tour made notice of a very specific piece of equipment designed to provide greater accessibility for students coming out of the underground corridor. Yanko pointed out the new LULA (limited use limited application) elevator, which is a different elevator from the one inside the school that will provide access to Campion from students making their way over from the parking garage. Yanko also made note of the extensive process that went into purchasing the best piece of equipment for students.
“Lifts are not always that good, but aren’t always user-friendly. We spoke to a number of people that are involved with wheelchairs, in particular a group of students that we have ongoing discussions with,” Yanko said.
“They were very helpful in us establishing that the requirements that needed to be met. It came at a slightly higher cost, but also a justified cost because of its functionality.”
Past the LULA elevator is the pedestrian corridor that runs underneath the newly constructed street. While it is not the flashiest part of the new additions to Campion, it does provide access to the college and the new towers, as well as a space for the new utility piping to run through. Kozlowski made specific note that while this corridor does run through into Campion, the University of Regina in fact still owns it. The collaborative effort by Campion and the University of Regina in this aspect of construction was rather simple because of the construction efforts of Campion that were already underway.
Leaving the underground area entirely, Yanko led us up to the new area of the Campion library. If students were regular visitors of Campion’s library in the past, they might be shocked to see how open the renovations have made the area. Yanko noted that the removal of the offices in the library would direct traffic through the library instead.
“Because of the entranceway, the direction of travel is not to go through the building and come back up, but is to come through [the library]. So we’ve enhanced the library, to make it a much more enhanced and inviting place.
Students will also note that the space outside of the library no longer has furniture due to fire safety concerns. That area now provides a safe, smoke-free exit outside along with the removal of any combustible materials. Yanko noted that this was an especially impressive part of the construction process, as they managed to install all the new pipes into the original ceiling.
“From a construction objective, our design team did a phenomenal job of doing this, because we still have the original ceiling. It’s incredibly challenging putting pipes in real tight areas.”
Finally, the tour ended at the top of the new stairwell. The stairwells may not be exciting, but fitting in with the theme of accessibility, the addition of special tactile locations at the top and bottom of the stairs have different elevations that are designed for the vision impaired.
With the tour finished, Yanko made specific note of how pleased he was with the process, and while it may have inconvenienced people at times, he greatly appreciated the cooperation from students, faculty and staff.
“In terms of executing the construction, we had [great] cooperation from our faculty, staff and our students. We did some temporary re-locations of critical offices so we could continue operating,” Yanko stated.
“The fire department would not allow us to continue to occupy the college because there were no fire escapes. We got incredible cooperation and good support, and quite frankly, it was one of the most trouble-free setups that we had to do because of that. People were inconvenienced, but people also saw the value of what we were doing, and they basically thought that it was a short-term problem for a long-term gain.”
With this major stretch of construction finally nearing completion, Yanko noted that Campion did not have any other immediate projects lined up, but that they were still in the process of trying to achieve some of their more long-term oriented goals.
“There’s nothing immediate on the books to plan, but we have long-term objectives that we must meet,” Yanko said. “There are ongoing code compliances, and we still have some washroom issues. We work with code authorities and regulation people so we can plan effectively. We also have programming and other issues, including students programs that we have to support. Generally they are sympathetic to that wherever they can be, because that’s the primary reason that we are here.”
Yanko capped off the Carillon’s tour by noting how happy he was with the whole process, and the positive comments that he had received so far. These renovations are all about trying to make the lives of the students, faculty and staff easier, and the college feels that they have succeeded in that area.
“I’ll say that the real proof from something like this come from the users. So far, the comments that we are receiving are really very positive,” Yanko stated. “Because that’s the real issue whether or not these things are helping people, and we are getting positives reviews on the work that’s been done, and the functionality of it, and that’s very affirming.”
The new areas in Campion College, including the elevator, stairwell and library area are now open to students. The final parts of the construction are expected to be finished in February. Updates on the progress of the construction can be found at campioncollege.ca/about-us/building-enhancement-project.