MacEwan Hall: the update

By Mary Chan

Students returning to school this fall should expect to see changes on campus, but not MacHall expansion well under way. Students will, however, see many changes within MacEwan Hall and MacEwan Student Centre due to redevelopment.

One change is new club space over the bookstore in MSC. According to Students’ Union Vice-president Operations and Finance Matt Lauzon, the space features eight club oVices housing 26 clubs and a business centre for all clubs.

"There’s going to be cubicles, phones, possibly computers, hopefully a fax, possibly a copier," said Lauzon. "There’s going to be a meeting room. It should serve for a lot of the meetings that clubs have."

Future redevelopment plans include the now SU-owned convenience store moving to MSC 278, the Info Centre moving to the north end of the MSC courtyard and more meeting rooms in the "airport lounge" area.

Five new food kiosks will open at the east end of the food court. According to Lauzon, Primo Bistro and TacoTime will occupy two of the new kiosk spaces, while the remaining three will be taken by vendors selling pizza, subs and chicken.

The Den and Black Lounge will close to make room for a new bar/restaurant. SU President Toby White admits students’ reactions to a Den-less campus will be "very interesting."

"We’re hoping to make the [new] bar what students want, to look at students’ needs," he said. "Hopefully students will like the new bar as much as the Den, hopefully more. We’ll be consulting with students very closely as we get that developed."

As of press time, ground was not yet broken for the new expansion building. The building, a new ballroom facility, was originally to be connected to the north wall of MacEwan Hall, but will now attach to the east side. According to Lauzon, the move was prompted by the university’s need to preserve an east-west corridor on campus for pedestrians in light of two new buildings on the north side of campus, the new Information Commmunications Technology building and a possible building by the engineering complex.

"They’re planning for two buildings over there already, so they looked at ours, and they said, ‘Wow, this is going to get really congested. This is going to cut everything off,’" Lauzon said. "Our building was going to go out north and it was going to make it very difficult for students to walk from east campus to west campus."

Though the building’s location changed, the interior design is the same. The performance hall will still hold 1,800 people. In addition, two new links may be added to the expansion facility: a +15 with MacKimmie Library and an underground link with Science B.

According to White, the SU only needs to finalize the security documents before the $10 million expansion loan is secured.
"They’re just basically the final legal papers about how the loan’s going to work," White said. "We’re pretty sure the loan will come through."

Of the $10 million, $1 million will pay off the remaining loan the SU has on MSC and $2.5 million is budgeted towards the new bar/restaurant. Lauzon did not specify the price tag for the new building.

"This is still something we’re working out with the university," he said. "We’re not entirely certain which parts of the hall we’re paying for."

The SU plans to hire a construction manager by Aug. 22, and Lauzon hopes the construction site will be fenced off in September. The site encloses "the Rock," which will have to move, though plans for where are not finalized. As for a completion date for expansion, Lauzon hazards a tentative guess.

"Our initial projection is for July 1 of next year," he said, adding a warning. "It’s not set."

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