Nfld. & Labrador

This used to be a hotel? See MUN's stunning new Signal Hill campus

When you step inside the building that houses MUN's new Signal Hill campus, it's hard to picture the front desk at the old Battery Hotel.

Old Battery Hotel reborn as a stylish and modern addition to Memorial University

Perched above downtown St. John's, MUN's Signal Hill campus has taken over the building formerly occupied by the Battery Hotel. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

When you step inside the building that houses Memorial University of Newfoundland's new Signal Hill campus, it's hard to picture the front desk at the old Battery Hotel.

"We first want people to see all this glorious light, and see the landscape around us," says Jennifer Adams, MUN's director of strategic innovation at the Signal Hill campus.

MUN purchased the old hotel in 2013 and has been renovating the building for several years. The lobby is now dominated by a grand stairway and flooded with natural light from new floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking St. John's Harbour and the historic downtown — and was designed by Alison McNeil, who is originally from St. John's. 

Jennifer Adams is the director of strategic innovation at MUN's Signal Hill campus. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

"It is 360 gorgeous views. We've got all sorts of light coming in through the top, light coming in through both sides of the building, and most of the convening spaces on this floor are all focused on that staggering view."

The new campus contains a residence for graduate students, a university conference centre, and the new Emera Innovation Exchange, described as the university's engagement and public innovation space. There are several "convening spaces" throughout, where people from different departments can bump into each other and possibly spark collaborations.

The Signal Hill campus features several "collision spaces" where people from different departments can interact. On the back wall, a new original artwork by Jud Haynes is covered in wrapping paper. The piece is being unveiled at the campus grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 29. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

'Rave reviews'

"It's a fantastic location to work," says Leigh Puddester, director of the Gardiner Centre, which hosts more than 3,000 clients per year for professional development.

"The light here, the energy in the building is terrific. And as great a place as it is to work, for our clients that come in here, it's an even better place to learn. We've already had 150 people in the building since we've moved in, and rave reviews about it."

Cathy Newhook is thrilled with her new digs at the Signal Hill campus. Newhook is the manager of engagement and communications with MUN's Harris Centre. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

Cathy Newhook is also thrilled about moving her office to the new campus.

"It's a beautiful space, and really it's been designed for collaboration, and that's what the Harris Centre is all about," said Newhook, the centre's engagement and communications manager.

"It's really neat to be in a space that encourages that amongst staff, but also within the other organizations that are based here, and then with the broader community."

Open house on Saturday

One space that many people will remember from the old Battery Hotel is the restaurant, which also featured the stunning view offered by the building's perch above St. John's Harbour. That space is now a large function room, available for conferences and other bookings.

Recognize this view? It used to be the restaurant at the Battery Hotel, now it's the main function area at MUN's new Signal Hill campus. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

"We hear about all of the pancakes eaten here, the weddings held here, the anniversary celebrations … the Sunday brunches," says Adams.

"The amount of community that people feel and experience, attached to this room, is one of the reasons we wanted to make sure this was a space that was accessible to the people."

The Signal Hill campus is being officially opened Saturday. There is a ceremony early in the afternoon, and an open house from 2 to 5 p.m.

Adams says everyone is welcome to drop in and see the new space for themselves.

"You can take in a tour, you can see any number of things that the university and community has to offer."

Grad student Napoleon Montbourquette works in one of the Signal Hill campus's public spaces. The campus houses a residence building with space for 50 grad students. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

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