$40M library renovations unveiled at Concordia after 3 years of construction

Concordia University is celebrating an end to $40-million renovations that transformed its Webster Library into a space designed not only for studying, but for hands-on learning and exploration.

Green walls, 3D printing, 'technology sandbox' among additions to Webster Library

Living walls, covered in plants, help keep the air clean at Concordia's newly renovated Webster Library. (CBC)

Concordia University is celebrating the completion of almost $40 million in renovations that transformed its Webster Library into a space designed not only for studying, but hands-on learning and exploration, too.

Friday marked the end of years of construction on the downtown library — the renovations started in the winter of 2015 — and students are now free to use its many innovative new features.

"Anytime you get tired of reading, you can just go in there and have fun," said film student Soha Zandi.

Zandi was in the 3D printing room on Friday, printing a new part for his camera equipment.

Without access to the library's new room, he estimates he would have had to pay about $2,000 to replace the part. Instead, he printed it for free.

Film student Soha Zandi used a 3D printer in the library to print a part for his camera equipment. (CBC)

Virtual technology is also on offer. Students can explore the world thanks to Google Earth in 3D, available on the library's VR headsets.

Another spot where students can take a break from their books is the "technology sandbox," where they can test out new technologies for themselves.

Jasia Stuart, an analyst at the technology sandbox, said people are often overjoyed to be able to play with equipment they've only ever heard about before.

"They know it exists, but this is the first time they've seen it," Stuart said.

Jasia Stuart is a technology analyst who has worked on the technology sandbox for more than 2 years. (CBC)

The renovations were funded by the Quebec government, which contributed most of the $37 million needed, and Concordia's undergraduate students also pitched in $1.25 million through their student fees.

Students had a say in how their money was used and "green walls" covered in plants was one of their ideas.

The walls use vertical landscaping to provide better indoor air quality.

"Students will be able to benefit from cutting-edge learning environments, which I am confident will help them succeed," Quebec Minister for Higher Education Hélène David said at the unveiling.

With files from CBC's Matt D'Amours