September 5, 2008
Hey, look. You can almost see my old office from here.
‘Here’ is 121 Research Drive, a recently-completed building at Innovation Place and new home to the world headquarters of On Campus News. My old office was in Kirk Hall, that 60-year-old brick building on Science Place. OCN, along with most of University Advancement, was moved north in August to free up academic office space as part of the core area revitalization project.
Our new digs at 121 Research Drive (in support of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, I’ve dubbed it Ritchie Hall) are lovely. The place is a shining example of sustainable building practice, with its tinted glass, low-flush toilets and lights that come on automatically when you walk in the room. But there really is something to be said for old buildings.
Although not as beautiful as the university’s Collegiate Gothic structures, or as comfortable as the more modern buildings, Kirk Hall has real terrazzo floors, and curved mouldings, and fine wooden doors, and windows that open. And if you are looking for the three Ls of real estate (location, location, location), Kirk Hall has it in spades. Conveniently located just off the Bowl, it comes with its own patch of grass (the tropical island, we used to call it) and a giant willow tree right out front, the perfect place for lunch on a warm summer day. A stone’s throw from the Tim Hortons in the Geology Building, Kirk Hall is also linked up, via the Agriculture Building, to the indoor circuit that gets you from here to anywhere without setting foot outdoors.
I never understood why people said they disliked working in Kirk Hall, even though it does, in its current state, have some drawbacks. Yes, it can get quite warm in the summer, and in the winter too if you forget at the end of the day to turn off the steam valve in your office. The one occupied by OCN, in the southwest corner of the third floor, has the bonus feature of being right over the air conditioning units for the Ag Building so the breeze that comes in the window is actually someone else’s used hot air.
The dust bunnies in Kirk Hall grow to alarming size, the lack of an elevator creates accessibility issues, there are sometimes funny smells in the halls and the custodial staff regularly carry mouse traps on their cleaning carts. And at the risk of being mocked, I would also like to suggest the building has at least one occupant of the ghostly kind, a friendly presence who often kept me company during late-night writing sessions.
It might be held together with cobwebs and memories but Kirk Hall has real character, and that makes it worth every renovation dollar the university is willing to invest.
Over the next couple of years, Kirk Hall will get a new roof, an elevator, a bathroom make-over, modern windows and a more human-friendly heating and cooling system.
I just hope all the hammering doesn’t scare away the ghost.