Old Main and law school on track for September opening

Courtney Dickson (Roving Editor), Taylor Rocca (Copy/Web Editor) and Adam Williams (Sports Editor) Ω

Construction within Old Main. When complete this space will hold classrooms. - PHOTO BY TAYLOR ROCCA

Construction within Old Main. When complete this space will hold classrooms. – PHOTO BY TAYLOR ROCCA

Hanging in vice president advancement Christopher Seguin’s office is a picture of what the finished product of the Old Main renovations should look like. It serves as a reminder for him as to what he and the rest of the university has worked so hard to accomplish.

The Old Main renovations that began in September 2011 are scheduled for completion in September this year.

“I would challenge any institution anywhere to do a project of this scale — $20 million and under these time constraints,” Seguin said.

Construction was held up last summer due to unexpected flooding and asbestos.

The priority for the university is getting the students into the new space, according to Seguin. Before any administrative spaces are finished, he said classrooms and study spaces first have to be completed.

“For the first year of law school students, it’s important that they get time in this building,” Seguin said. “They believed in us when we were just a collection of faculty so getting them in here is a huge priority for us.”

Patrick McIlhone of the TRU Society of Law Students is excited about the transition from the Brown House of Learning to Old Main.

Construction supplies sit in Old Main where future classrooms will eventually exist. - PHOTO BY TAYLOR ROCCA

Construction supplies sit in Old Main where future classrooms will eventually exist. – PHOTO BY TAYLOR ROCCA

“There are two main issues. Number one is just spaces to sit. Second, this isn’t exactly the quietest building to sit and study in.”

Should there be an issue with the renovations, McIlhone said it would be tough on the law school, because they are struggling with space as it is.

“We always feel like we’re imposing on the rest of the TRU students because we’re always here studying.”

Two crews have been working around the clock to get the project finished; one works during the day doing quiet activities and another starts working at full-scale as soon as classes end in the evening.

According to assistant dean of law Anne Pappas, there is no “plan B” if the renovations get pushed back due to unforeseen circumstances. She added there were once discussions about moving the law school off-site should Old Main not be ready on time.

“There’s two and three people sharing an office so there’s no way that we can sustain that next year and there’s no way we can sustain the students,” Pappas said.

Seguin, however, said the university is currently figuring out how they will handle extra students and faculty should the renovations be delayed.

Exterior construction on Old Main is complete but the internal construction phase is ongoing. - PHOTO BY TAYLOR ROCCA

Exterior construction on Old Main is complete but the internal construction phase is ongoing. – PHOTO BY TAYLOR ROCCA

Pappas said the law school has been able to utilize its space in HOL quite well the past two years, however the additional 80 to 100 students in September will not fit.

“It doesn’t look very good optically when you can’t fit all the students in a guest lecture because there are 80 [people] in that room and it only seats 48. It’s that external optic that I’m really concerned about,” she said.

The top one and a half floors take up the same amount of space as the entire international building — a whopping 50,000 square feet.

An additional $1.4 million is needed to complete the project. Though the university has that money in cash reserves, they are looking to fundraise externally so that money can be spent elsewhere.

“We’re currently in discussions with individuals and organizations and corporations throughout B.C.,” he said.

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