By: Corrina Servos | November 10, 2020
‘Tis the season for the new: new students on campus, new school year, new environment, and the start of a new season. These aren’t the only new things on campus, however. Students on campus have also begun to see traces of a new addition to campus in the recent weeks, with the construction of the new multi-purpose building beginning to take place.
While the giant hole in the ground may not look like much right now, it holds much promise for the future. The large burgundy, white and gray building is set to become a hub of life on campus. This multi-purpose building, complete with dorm units, common space, and classrooms, is a response to the growing number of enrolled students at Redeemer. Redeemer’s student base is growing rapidly, so this addition to campus is needed!
The construction on campus will take “approximately one year,” according to Ed Bosveld, Redeemer’s Vice-President of Administration and Finance, who says that Redeemer staff “expect the building to be ready just in time for students to move in next September.” While there have been some minor challenges during the construction, things have been going well and are scheduled to speed up in the coming months. The Redeemer campus may look very different by the time winter rolls around! The goal is to get the building up by wintertime so that interior walls, plumbing and HVAC, and electrical work can begin. Once the water is removed from the building site, the building will be progressing “upwards from the basement, first, second and third floors including walls and floors…hopefully most of the work in the winter will be the interior of the building,” says Alfred Mazereeuw, the Director of Physical Plant and Security.
The location of the new building, which was designed by Glenn Reinders of Reinders + Law, was strategically chosen as part of an “updated campus master plan,” says Bosveld. This new plan is “intended to make the campus more walk-able, with better places for people to gather in community.” This will be accomplished by directing traffic towards the outskirts of campus. Since the new building will also contain academic classrooms, it also makes sense to have it located close to the already existing academic building.
When drawing up plans for this new building, Willem de Ruijter says that much of the planning was based on the things that students value about campus life. Second, third, fourth and fifth year students may remember taking a survey during the fall of 2019 about what they would like to see in a new residence building. In this survey, students were asked about what they value about campus life and what kind of living arrangements they would prefer. An overwhelming number of students said that they valued the 6-8 person living arrangements that Redeemer is known for, as opposed to the single or double rooms that are common to many other universities. Other concepts that came up as a result of the survey included the importance of common space and community. The design for the new building took into account all of the things that were important to the Redeemer community and combined them into one large multipurpose venture.
In response to those same student surveys, the new building will have residence units that will hold 2, 4, 6 or 8 people. The residences will have 35 units: five units with 1 bedroom, twelve units with 2 bedrooms, twelve units with 3 bedrooms, five units with 4 bedrooms, as well as a unit for a Residence Director. This accommodates students who would prefer living with a lower number of students as well as students who prefer the classic Redeemer living situation. These rooms will be modelled similarly to the renovations done in the Luther Court apartments, with a focus on living space that is bright and welcoming. Each unit will have its own kitchenette as well as its own living space, similarly to the townhouses already on campus. The bedrooms will be slightly different than the typical townhouse bedrooms, with a small wall between the beds to allow for increased privacy while still encouraging the instant community of having a roommate.
The building is three stories tall (four, if you include the basement) and will be split into two wings with a section of common area between each wing. These common areas will have study space, lounges similar to the commuter lounge, and even potentially spaces like the rec center where people can hang out and watch television. These common areas will be open to be enjoyed by all members of the Redeemer community, while the residence sections will remain private. The design for the new building had to strike a balance between living space, classroom space, and common space. While some students who had requested a bowling alley, swimming pool, on campus pub, climbing wall, or a Starbucks may be disappointed, the new building seems to check many of the boxes which are so important to the Redeemer community.
The basement lounge shares a two story window with the first floor in order to provide natural light for the lounge, a concept which has become important in this new residence. Willem de Rujiter says that they have taken notes of what students like and don’t like about Augustine Hall, and that the new building was modelled to be “light and open.” All the rooms have been designed to provide maximum natural light in the new building, so that even the rooms in the basement don’t feel gloomy.
Something new in this building is the addition of basement space for classrooms. Many students have wondered if they would be living in a unit with a classroom down the hall, or if they would be able to just roll out of bed and go next door for their class. The answer to this question is no, as the only place classrooms will be located is in the basement. These classrooms have been designed so that they give “flexible potential for future needs,” according to Willem de Ruijter. Depending on the need, they will be able to function as meeting rooms, classrooms, or areas for other student functions.
So why a new building now? With the additional enrollment at Redeemer, it has become a necessity to be able to offer more housing. Redeemer offers a very strong community for first years, and the renovation of the Luther court apartments has opened doors for more on campus housing for second years, but in the past there hasn’t been a lot of options for third and fourth years. The purpose of this building was to try to “create a stronger vision for a third or fourth years to live on campus,” says de Ruijter. Having additional living spaces to offer upper year students could be a good way to prepare them for what comes after Redeemer, while still living in the Redeemer community. At this point, it isn’t clear which students the new building is being geared towards, but the important part is that there will be more spaces available for students to live on campus. The new residence will hold 170 beds, and according to de Ruijter, “if you add these 170 beds… we’ll be able to have over 600 people live on campus.” This gives a great opportunity to all students who want to live on campus during their upper years!
The future is now at Redeemer, and it is an exciting time to see the rapid growth across campus. Bosveld says that one of the biggest highlights of the construction process has been seeing the “excitement that the project has generated in the Redeemer community,” and this excitement will only continue to grow as the construction progresses. This is a great opportunity for Redeemer to be growing, and this is just the first of many steps in the direction of impacting even more lives here on campus.
For more information about the new building at Redeemer, visit https://www.redeemer.ca/strategic-plan-2025/new-residence-and-learning-facility/