September 1980: Place Riel opens
On Sept. 18, 1980, the Place Riel Student Centre officially opened, the culmination of 15 years of planning.
Located between the Murray Library and Qu’Appelle Hall, the student hub—and first point of contact for many campus visitors—originally included lounge space, payphones, a waiting area for bus routes, meeting rooms and office space for the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union, Place Riel Society, Alumni Association, and The Sheaf. There was also a bank, a sundry sales store and a games area.
By 1965, the Memorial Union Building—built a decade earlier—was no longer meeting the needs of a growing student body. A consultant’s study in 1965 recommended 150,000 gross square feet at a total cost of $4.7 million. A student referendum, held one year later, approved an annual $12 levy to finance construction of the new student centre; this was raised to $20 in 1970. The first phase of construction began in 1975.
The use of the building has evolved over the years, particularly following renovations in 1992 and again in 2011. Now 5,100 square metres in size, thanks to the most recent four-storey addition, the Place Riel Student Centre offers non-academic services and to meet the needs of a growing university population.
With files from University Archives and Special Collections.