Construction of U of R's College Avenue campus buildings inches closer to completion

It’s been one year since the University of Regina revealed its design for the College Avenue Campus, even though work has been underway since Aug. 2016, and according to University officials construction is currently estimated at 85 per cent complete.

Students are expected to be back at the campus for classes this fall

The University of Regina's College Avenue campus renewal project is intended to make the campus more accessible. (CBC News)

Construction for the University of Regina's College Avenue campus renewal project, which began more than 18 months ago, is nearly complete, university officials say.

The construction is 85 per cent complete and everything is on schedule, according the the university.

"People will be shocked, I think, and dually impressed with how it looks," said Dave Button, vice-president of administration at the University of Regina.

The university revealed its design for the campus renewal project a year ago, although work has been underway since August of 2016. The campus is now expected to reopen to students in September. 

The total cost of the project is estimated at $60 million —  including a $27.6 million contribution from the Government of Canada's Strategic Investment Fund and $8.25 million from Conexus Credit Union.

Dave Button, vice-president of administration at the University of Regina, stands beside pictures showing the progress of the project inside the College Avenue campus site's construction trailer. (Alex Johnson/CBC News)

Nearly all structural renovations are complete on the College Building, Tower Building and the Conservatory Building facade.

"The only reason we've had such great success is because of our relationship with the entire industry here in town — from the architects, the engineers, the builders and the trades on-site," Button said.

​"The true success will be when we open the doors," said Button.

Something old something new

The group of university buildings date back as far as 1912 and additions were being built into the 1960s.

Button said the biggest challenge for crews has been connecting the College Building to a new structure, which was necessary because the Conservatory and Gallery Buildings were in a deteriorated state.

Darke Hall in its original state. (University of Regina Archives)

Both of those buildings — which housed the university's continuing education and music programs — were demolished.

New structures will be fully erected in order to continue the previous U of R programming, and the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy will also share the space.

Although preserving the site's original architecture was important, Button said the architectural team wanted to incorporate a few modern twists.

Many of the archways, main corridors and window finishings have been preserved with protective treatments.

Construction crews work to preserve some of the building's original features. (Alex Johnson/CBC News)

New buildings

On the west side of the College Building, the new structure will contain boardrooms, classrooms and washrooms. It will fill the space resulting from the demolition of the Conservatory and Gallery buildings.

Button said the second edifice being erected to the east of the College Building is expected to increase safety and accessibility. Additions include fire exit stairs, washrooms and an area containing mechanical and electrical utilities.

The next phase of the renewal plan involves Darke Hall, where exterior work has already been completed.

Darke Hall in its original state, featuring the hall's balcony. (University of Regina Archives)

According to the Button, about $3.5 million has gone into repointing the building's front brick and stone, and restoring the front doors and windows. Additionally, the stone steps have been brought up-to-code and the slate roof was replaced.

Conexus Credit Union will also be constructing a building adjacent to Darke Hall, but that will not be complete for several years.