Student centre cost discussions underway

Discussions have begun between contractors, the architect and university officials to finalize the cost of building the Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre.

The call for bids on the 2,350 square metre building designed by Douglas Cardinal closed Dec. 18 but the resulting bids for construction were higher than expected, explained Colin Tennent, associate vice-president of facilities. The next step, he said, is to work with all of the parties involved "to find ways of progressing this project in a fashion that addresses the cost overage."

Greg Fowler, acting vice-president of finance and resources, said that even with the added step of negotiating with various contractors on price, "we're not anticipating any delays in the original timeline of seeing the student centre open in September of 2014. This building remains a very high priority for the University of Saskatchewan."

In advance of issuing the tender, Facilities Management Division (FMD) officials held two information sessions for potential bidders to familiarize them with the unique, sculptural stone-clad structure. At the presentations, which included the participation of the architect, contractors had a chance to view elaborate 3-D models and images of the building that detailed everything from its steel frame to the location of mechanical components.

Tennent said that since the tender results became known, Cardinal, whose notable buildings include the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the First Nations University of Canada, "has examined details of his design and rationalized them even further to ensure a clearer understanding of how this building will be built" while still maintaining critical design elements like the circle.

Fowler said negotiations with contractors could result in an agreement on cost for the Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre within about a month.

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