Despite a global pandemic, the construction of SAB and the fitness expansion returns back to normal

In March 2017, the vote to expand the Pulse fitness centre and construct the new Student Activity Building was passed with a near 60% student vote in favour of the construction. Construction began in October 2018 where expansion occurred at the David Braley Athletic Centre and Ivor Wynne Centre.

On the east end, a brand new gym will be constructed. On the west side, there will be an expansion to the Pulse fitness centre as well as the creation of the brand new Student Activity Building

One of the main instigators for starting this project was a space survey the McMaster Students Union conducted almost six years ago. Debbie Martin, assistant vice-president and chief facilities officer, praised the MSU’s key leadership role in the project from the concept design to working with facilities and the construction committee.

The MSU also implemented campus-wide surveys and focus groups on communicating student needs to a tangible project, with multiple representatives on the architect selection, HUB (new student centre) design and construction committees. The MSU will be the primary managers of the HUB once open.

Unfortunately, building plans had to be put on hold in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in which construction of this project was deemed “non-essential”.

Originally, construction was to be completed by June 2020; however, due to unfortunate circumstances from budgeting, this date was shifted to November 2020.

“We [shifted the date] due to some initial costing that was done when we hired our construction manager, Stuart Olson. When they came onboard, they did some costing for us; we were targeting to be over budget. So we went through a value-engineering process with Olson on the project and that expanded our timelines a bit, which pushed us to November 2020, with the west end to be done in September 2021,” said Martin.

“We [shifted the date] due to some initial costing that was done when we hired our construction manager, Stuart Olson. When they came onboard, they did some costing for us; we were targeting to be over budget. So we went through a value-engineering process with Olson on the project and that expanded our timelines a bit, which pushed us to November 2020, with the west end to be done in September 2021,” said Martin. 

The completion of the east end addition has now shifted from November 2020 to April 2021 due to unforeseen obstacles due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The site had to be shut down for a period of time due to the provincial regulations and all of our projects have experienced some delays in getting materials, due to delays in manufacturing and other facilities . . . It is a trickle-down effect because of COVID,” said Martin.

“It is a trickle-down effect because of COVID,” said Martin.

The plan is to refine these estimated dates after further meetings with Olson. With that being said, within the current provincial lockdown, construction projects involving education are allowed to continue operations.

“We’re working with [a] consultant right now on the schedule. They have indicated [an estimation completion date of] April for the east gym, so we anticipate the east gym being well open by September [2021]. Now, we’re working with them on revised deadlines for the project,” explained Martin.

Overall, many of the obstacles that the team encountered throughout construction have been due to the pandemic. Fortunately, Olson indicated that no workers have contracted COVID-19.

With that being said, the future is promising for the construction project. While all parties involved in the project continue to have ongoing daily conversations with each other, Martin explains there is still a yearning for students to be able to return back to school in September and use these facilities.

Images courtesy of C/O MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects (MJMA) and C/O Debbie Martin

Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.