Volume 12, Number 10 January 21, 2005

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FMD fast-tracks finishing touches for Spinks Addition

The U of S Facilities Management Division (FMD) is taking action – using its new project management and service response system – to address Chemistry Department complaints that nothing was being done to put the finishing touches on the interior of the year-old Spinks Addition to Thorvaldson.

FMD says the job is being given special priority and the hallways, walls and common areas of the Spinks building will have furniture, bulletin boards, signs, artwork, plants, and display cases before Chemistry hosts a large national Chemical Society conference in May.

More than that, FMD says this case helps it identify areas for improved service in the future.

The University’s interior designer, Lynn Earle, says as soon as FMD became aware of the extent of the problem, when On Campus News did a story on the matter in early January, Vice-President of Facilities Management Paul Becker asked her to immediately work with the Chemistry Department to ensure the work got done quickly. Becker notes he and project managers must hear about such problems sooner, so corrective action can be taken.

Earle says that, given the time lag since the building opened, ”I can understand their frustration” about the lack of these finishing touches. She says the final interior touches to a building can be “easy to lose track of” amidst the complexity of hundreds of minor and major projects happening at the same time.

For that reason, Earle says “FMD has implemented a new project policy whereby the final finishing touches of a large capital project will be assigned to a dedicated internal project manager, to ensure efficient and effective project completion, as well as communication and co-ordination with the building users.”

FMD has four experienced internal project managers, and this will ensure the finishing touches inside a building are completed appropriately, Earle says.

She says customer satisfaction is one of FMD’s primary goals, and on the issue of Chemistry’s three floors in the Spinks Addition, “we want to move ahead and have a satisfied client at the end of the day.”

Earle met on Jan. 5 with Chemistry Professor Emeritus John Weil, who along with other faculty had raised the issue a number of times since November 2003. At that time, Weil and Prof. Marek Majewski prepared a 17-point list of suggestions to FMD on everything from problems with signage to plants in the new building. FMD notes that while all the action items were in the works, they were proceeding too slowly.

Since her meeting with Weil, proposed layouts for furniture have been drawn up and are being reviewed by Chemistry. She says the furniture, bulletin boards, bookcases and some initial display cases should be ordered by Jan. 21. As well, “Groundskeeper Murray Zook has reviewed areas for plants and will be organizing installation and upkeep immediately.”

Earle agrees with Weil and others in Chemistry that right now, “signage deficiencies make ‘way-finding’ in the building difficult” so more signs are in the planning stages.

Earle notes Weil has some “wonderful” ideas for artwork for the building’s hallways and walls. These have been discussed with Chemistry Department Head Ron Steer, and some will definitely be pursued, while others will be referred to U of S Kenderdine Art Gallery Director Kent Archer for consideration.

Weil is pleased that FMD appears to be moving forward rapidly, but he’s waiting for the results. “We certainly see eye-to-eye on many of the points, and I have positive expectations,” Weil says.

But, he adds, much more can be done to fully finish the building, such as displays illustrating concepts and historical developments in chemistry, and possibly landscaping the courtyard between the Spinks and Biology Buildings and naming it in honour of Henry Taube, the Saskatchewan native and U of S graduate who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1983.

“John has a number of intriguing ideas to develop the character of the Spinks Building and spark interest in scientific achievement through the use of various art forms and displays. These will take a little more time to develop, build specific display cabinets, mount the work and install.

Becker points out that staying within the original scope and budget of the project is, as always, paramount. “We would like to do many wonderful things in all areas of our wonderful campus but we must also deal with critical infrastructure priorities and the essentials identified by integrated plans and stewardship imperatives,” Becker says.

He adds he has now established mechanisms so he will hear about any project issues and community dissatisfaction earlier, in an effort to keep projects on-track.

Earle adds she and Weil will meet regularly to ensure the finishing project is carried out satisfactorily and that all issues of budget and project priority are considered.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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