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Burnaby campus to undergo $10 million renovation

AQ, Convocation Mall plaza will be upgraded to be more water resistant

This project is only the first phase as it will address 20 percent of the plaza area.
This project is only the first phase as it will address 20 percent of the plaza area.
Image Credits: Alexa Tarrayo

SFU is about to get a makeover.

The university has recently put forward an RFP (request for proposals) for developers for a $10 million project to renovate part of the Burnaby campus. The area in question is the “plaza,” which begins at the Trottier Observatory and stretches down to the Convocation Mall fountain. “It’s a massive area,” chief facilities officer Larry Waddell told The Peak.

The project aims to address the now-aging materials that were originally used to build the plaza, as well as issues such as leaking. The earthenware ceramic tiles that were used for the plaza have reached the end of their lifespan, and have been exposed to plenty of wear and tear over the years.

This is concerning because, while many may see the plaza as a floor, it is actually directly above both the AQ and Convocation Mall parkade. Said Waddell, “It’s a roof you can walk on.” Underneath the tiles is a waterproof membrane that protects the area below.

Where will the $10 million for the project come from? The university will have to foot 25 percent of the bill; however, Waddell mentioned that the provincial government has “dramatically increased” the funding available for these types of projects since the election of the Liberals.

Currently, SFU is also discussing plans to build a new life science building somewhere on campus, in an effort to ease the burden on the aging Shrum Science Centre.

While the project is primarily meant for practical purposes, the plaza may also see some cosmetic updates. The original tiling material is, according to Waddell, no longer available — this means the newly installed tiles will be of a different material, and possibly a different shape.

Don’t expect a huge change, though. “We want to be respectful of the existing campus,” Waddell said, adding that the university plans to stay true to the “original intent” of the architects behind SFU’s design, including Arthur Erickson.

The process for the RFP could stretch on in the next few months, as proposals are evaluated on a number of criteria. The first year of the project will be focused on planning and design work, then the following two years on construction. The project will only cover 20 percent of the area that needs to undergo renewal, as the entire plaza will need an upgrade eventually. However, part of the challenge the university faces is how to stagger the work to limit disruption to students and faculty.

Imagine, said Waddell, the logistical difficulties that would be caused with having to replace all the tiles in Convocation Mall. “This work is going to be noisy, dusty, and disruptive.”

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