The patio in MacEwan Student Centre is deserted for the majority of the school year, with its snow smothered cement tables and concrete floors. The Students' Union plans to change all that, utilizing this mostly dead space for a posh new Student Commons.
"The Student Commons is one of a series of projects that the Students' Union is doing with the money we got last year through the tuition consultation process," explained SU President Bryan West. "It was approved by last year's council, and so it's been implemented by this year's council."
As a member of both councils, West shows an ardent attachment to this project.
"This is one of the reasons why I came back as president, this is one of the things I wanted to finish," he said.
With sketches from our own Environmental Design students in hand, West paints an impressive picture of the perfect student lounge. It would be a sunlit atrium, flourishing with plant life and comfort, and maybe a vendor or two.
"[The patio] would be all glassed in, you would have this sunken lounge here with trees," said West. "It's going to be powered by solar energy so that it's eco-friendly. It'll be able to open up when it's hot outside, so that we'll be able to have the sun come in when it's nice."
Intending to make the space architecturally unique as well as practical, West described plans for installing cubicle-like structures.
"[We are] designing pods inside of it, which would be kind of like these mushroom [shapes] that stick out of the floor. You have couches in there."
Sliding sun roofs and elaborate study pods don't come cheap, with an estimated price tag of $1.2 million. $350,000 will come out of the tuition consultation money, with SU operations funds covering the rest of the tab.
"Yeah, it is expensive, and hopefully it will be worth it," said West. "Hopefully students appreciate it. The purpose of the student lounge goes hand in hand with making the campus a more student-friendly place. Part of the problem is we're a commuter campus. Lots of students just come to class and they leave. So we figure make Mac Hall more friendly, and in many ways you may make the university a better place to be."
Though it sounds great on paper, West cautioned that the project is still in the first stages of planning.
"It hasn't all been decided," he said. "It takes a long time to build stuff, especially something of this size. So if we get this thing started by the time I'm out of office, I'll be happy."