October 16, 1998 Volume 6, Number 4

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Major building projects on campus advancing simultaneously

Architect's roof-off, draft rendering of the north face of the Thorvaldson Addition, showing one level of research modules, the existing Annex behind, the Biology Building to the left and the "new" (1966) Thorvaldson Wing to the right.

U of S architect Colin Tennent and Larry Harder, director of planning and engineering, agree that the ambitious building projects now underway on campus make for exciting work days.

"Coming into the office in the morning is usually more stimulating than going home at the end of days that can be overwhelming," Harder says. "But we're very pleased at the cooperation we're receiving from user groups and the Department [of Post-Secondary Education and Training] and things are really happening."

"As a two-man architectural team," Tennent adds, "we've probably got more work in front of us than any small shop in western Canada."

In their Facilities Management offices, Harder and Tennent are simultaneously developing design plans for the three major building projects - the Thorvaldson, Kinesiology, and College Buildings - as "a capital development block."

Progress currently is most advanced on the Thorvaldson Project, the Board of Governors having approved the project outline stage for it and okayed the engaging of an architectural firm - probably by early in 1999.

Based on the client needs specified in the project planning phase now completed for Thorvaldson, Tennent has produced a preliminary architectural rendering of the new structure (see adjacent graphic).

The draft sketch shows a north-facing, three-storey structure that extends from the east wall of the 'new' (1966) wing of Thorvaldson to the west side of the Biology Building, with the existing Annex adjoining the new structure's south side. Its cost will be about $15.6 million.

A $6.7-million component of the Thorvaldson Project will entail basic renovation and retrofitting of classrooms, theatres, office space, and the Annex.

A major part of the Thorvaldson Project, the total cost of which is pegged at $36 million, involves the Engineering Building.

The Chemical Engineering Department, now located in Thorvaldson, will be located in a new, $13.6-million, pilot-plant addition to the Engineering Building. An adjacent office floor, currently occupied by Computer Sciences, will be renovated for use by Chemical Engineering.

To make way for the addition, an old section of Engineering (just across from Rutherford Rink) will be demolished.

The Computer Science Department, now in Engineering, will move to space in Thorvaldson currently used for undergraduate chemistry labs, thus locating that Arts and Science Department closer to the Arts Building.

One 'wet-lab' (in G74 Thorvaldson) that was recently renovated for use as a physical chemistry lab will be designated for use by the Biology Department, once the new Thorvaldson wing is in place.

The current Thorvaldson Annex - no longer adequate as lab space - will be renovated for use as a classroom wing.

As for the Kinesiology Building, a task force has been struck (comprising representatives from the College, Facilities Management, and the Department of Post-Secondary Education) to consider space needs, location, and budget.

Preliminary thinking is that the new Kinesiology Building will supplant Parking Lot R (where the old Hangar Building was) and, on its north face, be "morphed" (as Harder puts it) into the header houses just east of the Administration Building (see rough sketch).

If Kinesiology does go where R Lot now is, a new parking lot may be created where Gym 1 was located.

And if a proposed new, privately-developed arena and parkade go ahead (see related story), they may be located on the other side of the pedestrian overpass, thus creating easy walkway passage from there through the new Kinesiology Building and on to the College Building (see sketch).

Because the uses of the College Building are still being discussed and debated, design plans for it are currently less developed than the others.

But Harder and Tennent note that the working plan is to bring all three major projects to the consultant-engagement phase more or less at the same time. They're staggered for the time being only.

Asked how one goes about determining the costs for projects of this magnitude, Harder says it's partly an art, partly a science.

"The process is based on historical data for specific building types, but increased by an escalation factor to represent the probable project cost in current dollars."

"There's an order of ascending accuracy in estimating costs," Tennent adds, "that runs from, say, plus or minus 20% at the early stages to plus or minus 2 or 3% at the later stages. Consultant estimates should be within 5% of their projections."

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