Starting this June, Old Main will receive the first portion of its renovations. The building, the oldest on campus, will be undergoing extensive renovations to modernize many of the classrooms on the first and second floors.
By the end of the renovations, 28 classrooms will be completely revitalized and support spaces such as the visual arts lab, the 2600-block staff room, the Writing Centre, hallways and bathrooms will see substantial upgrades.
The announcement of Old Main’s revitalization comes after months of planning, which included feedback from students, faculty and staff.
More specifically, some of the improvements will include projector screens, additional electrical outlets for laptop/tablet use and soundproofing, says TRU’s vice president administration and finance Matt Milovick.
“We are completely redoing the bathrooms on the first and second floor of the A block of Old Main. We are redoing the hallways, doing room treatments and wall treatments. We are changing out the ceiling tiles, the classrooms will be carpeted,” Milovick said. “It won’t be recognizable from what is currently is.”
Many of Old Main’s classrooms will be rearranged and repainted, with some even being expanded.
“We are going to end up making three additional classrooms. When we did our planning we looked at our classroom utilization and the requirements for certain sizes of classes,” Milovick said. “We are trying to line it up in that way. There will be more 25 seater classrooms and 40 seater classrooms.”
Classrooms will also be getting a variety of new furniture as well. In addition to this, HVAC upgrades will help control room temperatures and improve air quality, while also reducing energy costs.
While some of the HVAC work has already been completed, it is likely that the building will be refitted with new light fixtures and sustainable bulbs, says Milovick.
Though the budget for the project is $5 million, Milovick believes it won’t cost as much.
“We have that much allocated for the project, but we don’t anticipate it will cost that much,” he said.
Work on Old Main’s renovations will start soon and is expected to take place in four phases, with completion anticipated by March 2019. While the work will rotate to ensure that some classrooms will still be usable, the construction is expected to disrupt some classes. However, students will be accommodated for the duration of the project.
“With the first phase a whole whack of classrooms will be done first, they will be opened up and new renovations will be started on the second phase,” Milovick said. “We are putting in eight portables for the academic year behind Old Main to pick up some additional scheduling slack, but we’ll use them as a last resort.”
Though the project was originally to be completed by the end of the fall 2018 semester, TRU has been in tough competition for skilled tradesmen as Kamloops is currently undergoing a construction boom.
“We had some challenges on the ITTC site, which affected the schedule and we managed to mitigate that, but we have seen similar challenges on this project,” Milovick said. “But so far on this project, our bottleneck has been around drywallers.”
Despite minor setbacks, Milovick believes that Old Main’s modernization will be of great benefit to the TRU community.
“I think it’s going to be great for students, it’s going to be great for faculty,” he said. “Given that we teach the majority of our classes in that building, to be taught in a modern space, I think it is a brilliant thing for the TRU community.”