|Commons causes conundrum|
|Written by Alec James Miske|
|Thursday, 07 April 2011|
The new $52-million Student Commons project is a necessary expansion to Algonquin College, on a campus that is in desperate need of space. However, in its current incarnation, the building doesn’t need every planned feature.
With a population of over 19,000 currently on campus there is only 50 sq. ft. of space per student, compared to 150 – 200 sq. ft. at Carleton and University of Ottawa.
While the new building will address some space issues, including an expanded Mamidosewin Aboriginal Student Centre connected to a ceremonial grove, a 700-seat auditorium and will provide additional counselling services, it also begs the question: are we putting the right emphasis on where expansion should be?
The project itself will occupy much-needed parking space at the college, and while a recent expansion on Woodroffe’s current parking lot augmented the loss of space, it does little to alleviate the current parking woes that plague the college.
In 2003 when the Student’s Association first envisioned the construction of an auditorium for the school it was seen as an important addition to Algonquin for concerts, lectures and other productions. Since then it has changed into a completely different project.
While it retained the auditorium, it doesn’t require a relocation of student services in a new building. They are already centralized in C-building and moving them into the new commons doesn’t change or add to the services provided.
The new commons will expand space for students, however the frivolous additions of a new home for the ombudsperson and new administrative offices for the Student’s Association are not needed.
The current location for these student services are centralized – the Registrar’s Office and Financial Aid office are nearby. Prospective students can easily navigate the campus instead of running back and forth between buildings.
Students currently populate the hallways, rotunda, lounge areas and inside the crowded cafeteria. There is little or no space for students to work independently, gather in groups, and to organize clubs or activities.
Areas provided in the school for student use are few and far between. The new Mobile Learning Centre is crowded, The Observatory, a SA-funded bar and lounge, closes at 3 p.m. on weekends and the Learning Resource Centre is consistently packed.
It would be better to dedicate this proposed office space for student use. With the title “Student Commons,” the emphasis should be on space for students.
With a promise to include green space and areas for socializing there is not yet location specifically set aside for scholastic use, only common spaces with private study areas and although the proposed building will meet LEED-Gold Certification from the Canada Green Building Council, it still fails to meet all of Algonquin’s needs for future sustainability.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 April 2011 )|
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