Sitting atop a once peaceful green space, the new Information and Communication Technology building is finally casting its shadow over campus. Although construction is not yet finished, there doesn't seem to be much room for improvement judging by what is complete.
As you walk into the building's main floor, pipes and wires are visible above, while the floor's slippery gray texture only adds to the look of an unfinished project. A quick tour through the upper floors reveals the same haphazard architectural style--a sign that there may not be a pretty, more polished look in the future.
The main floor also reveals a semi-circle of bench space complete with plug-ins and laptop network jacks that puts Scurfield Hall to shame.
From the outside, the ICT building looks like an expansion of City Hall rather than a building to house classes. Surrounded by the aged and weathered stone buildings that once gave this campus it's character, its abundance of reflective glass make it a diamond in the rough. Or maybe it's just an eyesore.
However, the biggest problem of the ICT building is not the way it was designed or how out of place it looks. It isn't even the porthole style windows looking into the lecture theatres. It's what the look and features say of its purpose--and more importantly, the future of this university.
The ICT building, including the materials in the labs and class content, represents a major shift in the focus of this school and perhaps universities in general. We're now training people to work.
Job training was once left to the DeVrys and SAITs of the world. When the University of Calgary pushes faculties like Management and Computer Science to the fore and leaves the liberal arts by the wayside, it is pushing to become a major competitor. The ICT building, along with other new projects on our newly connected campus--whose tuition has prevented most people from affording laptops and Palm Pilots anyway--is the first step on a short trip to becoming a technical school, and a very well-funded one at that.
The bottom line is that ICT is set up to look, feel and operate like a business office rather than part of an academic institution. Although one cannot ignore the fact that many people look to a university education for increased marketability, those same people forget about the art of exposing minds to original thought.
Unfortunately, one day this will be the university's only role. At least the infrastructure will be in place when DeVry moves in.