University Centre is currently undergoing massive renovations, with wooden slats over the floor and many areas cordoned off. The construction is a part of the ongoing revitalization project, expected to continue until at least October and more likely until mid-November.
At a presentation held at the Fireplace Lounge, in University Centre, Alan Simms, associate vice-president administration, spoke about the new revitalization project with members of faculty and students, referring to the outlined plan as “stages of havoc.”
Simms explained that this is a main floor project and won’t affect other levels of the building
“The process will go in stages and take several months,” said Simms.
Working from east to west across University Centre, the construction team has begun laying concrete during August weekends and will begin tiling in mid-September.
The concrete will be slightly lower than the old tiles, but there will be indicators and warnings to help prevent any accidents. To avoid any disruption to normal procedure, the tiling will be done at night.
“We’re doing everything possible to keep the area safe,” said Simms.
“The old tiles are over 40 years old and are in desperate need of replacing. We’re trying to keep the disruption minimal.”
Potential issues include Orientation Week and whether the tiling process would block access to the bookstore in the evening.
“The tiling will not take place until after Orientation Week. The concrete will be smoother than the floor is right now with all the wooden slats,” said Simms.
Simms stated that there would be measures taken to make sure the building is still accessible during the construction.
“We’ll be sending out weekly updates and co-ordinating with the construction team to avoid pile-ups,” said Simms.
The project is a result of a City of Winnipeg review for safety and has been helped in design by graduate students in the university’s City Planning program.
The new tiles will be three different colours: grey, white and black. The grey, which will be the vast majority of the floor, will be a basaltina stone replica ordered from Italy and will be much easier to clean.
Any areas, where there might be difficulty for the visually impaired, will have a special white tile which will indicate a change in level or an obstruction, having a distinctive textural notation.
A black tile is being used to line the stair edges, to accentuate them and make it easier to tell them apart from normal flooring.
In addition, all the ramps will have slip-resistant tile to make them safer.
Heather Laube, University of Manitoba Students’ Union president, was enthusiastic about the project.
“I think it’ll be great [ . . . ]. I think it’ll look a lot better than what we’ve got now,” said Laube.
Patricia Reid, director of Ancillary Services, told the Manitoban that if students have any issues with the construction, they should contact her.
Farhan Islam, a student in the Faculty of Arts, said he was not a fan of the construction and felt the money being spent on the renovations should be going towards improving education at the university.
“Education is more important, [ . . . ] this is not a market or a shop”, said Islam.
Guy Jonatschick, an electrical and computer systems analyst for the Faculty of Engineering, said the construction hasn’t caused him any problems so far and that he enjoyed being able to eat at the tables that have been relocated to the Fireplace Lounge.
“It’s a novelty being closer to the windows, the old eating area is like being in a dungeon,” said Jonatschick.