Concept photo for the expansion of the Schulich engineering building. There will be 15,500 square metres of new space.
Courtesy of Gibbs Gage Architects/ Diamond Schmitt Architects

Schulich Engineering building to expand

Renovations will add four new floors to the building by 2016

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University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering is hoping to open the doors on a $158-million renewal and expansion of their nearly 50-year-old building during the 50th anniversary of the university in 2016.

The four-floor expansion will provide two new floors of research facilities as well as two floors of new classrooms and teaching space — a total of 15,500 square metres — while older sections of the engineering building will be renovated.

“We’re in need of that expansion — we’ve been in need for several years now,” engineering dean Guy Gendron said. “It means better teaching space as well as better research space. We definitely need these two kinds of space. Our research is expanding every year and we need new space that will accommodate that research.”

The school is hoping the expansion will allow an increased enrolment of about 10 per cent. SSE has seen a 23 per cent increase in applications since last year, from 2,600 to 3,200 applicants — an increase of almost 600 possible students.

A video on YouTube shows that the new expansion will be built on the Firesticks Courtyard connecting the two sides of the existing U-shaped building. The expansion will include new advanced lab space, social and event space and sustainable initiatives such as solar cells and a green roof for gardens.

Gendron said the SSE has been moving to a more hands-on approach to undergraduate classes and the areas will emphasize collaborative learning with large, open spaces and workrooms.

“What we have currently in our buildings are classical classrooms and lecture theatres,” Gendron said. “What we will have in the new building is a series of several project rooms where we’ll be able to divide students in smaller groups of eight to 10 people.”

“That’s what our expansion will allow us to do,” Gendron said, “to have more hands-on courses and project-based learning so that students are not passively listening to a lecture, but are really engaged in their learning.”

In addition to collaborative environments in undergraduate classrooms, the new expansion will provide club space centred around the main machine shop for the several engineering clubs currently scattered around the engineering building and the rest of campus.

The renewal and expansion is the U of C’s highest priority for capital funding.

The first phase of the project, to bring the current engineering building up to current building codes, was completed in 2011.

To date, the university has contributed $5 million to the project and $14 million was raised through Schulich’s Engineering Leaders campaign for Phase 2. The remaining $142 million for the project has been approved by the Alberta Government and the university is currently working with the province to develop a funding model.

The project was supposed to break ground this spring but has been delayed and no longer has a projected start date.

Gendron pointed out that construction costs are expected to increase in Calgary over the next few years and that the cost of the project will increase the longer it takes to complete.