Photo by Hannah Walters-Vida
In April 2017, construction for McMaster University’s Peter George Centre for Living and Learning began. Situated directly beside the Ron Joyce Stadium, PGCLL is projected to be a complete 14-storey, 335 000 square foot building by Nov. 4, 2019.
Holly Gibson, manager of marketing and communications for McMaster’s Housing & Conference Services, revealed that that the rationale for building PGCLL was based on demand for student housing and wellness services, a movement towards active learning at McMaster and a commitment to replace the daycare that was removed when Wilson Hall was built.
Meeting minutes from a McMaster Faculty Association meeting on Apr. 23, 2019 reveal that the new McMaster Children’s Centre was set to open in PGCLL by Aug. 7, 2019. In addition to the daycare, other non-residence areas of PGCLL such as the active learning classrooms and Student Wellness Centre still remain under active construction.
Currently, McMaster has six other active learning spaces in L.R. Wilson Hall. PGCLL will introduce a seventh, larger and more refined active learning space to McMaster’s campus. As Gibson said, “Whereas most active learning classrooms accommodate 30-90 people, the PGCLL active learning classroom was created in consultation with designers, architects and campus stakeholders to be one of the largest active learning spaces in North America (according to FlexSpace.org) with a capacity of 405 participants.”
The purpose of an active learning classroom can be defined as a way to teach content through group-based learning. Gibson stated that instructors who utilize the spaces effectively tend to focus less on lecturing and more on facilitating active engagement amongst students. The technology of these rooms is built around fostering collaboration. For example, instructors can control whether a student’s work is displayed within their group or to the whole class. Self-directed problem solving through case studies are just one example of how professors can use active learning classrooms. The active learning format is being successfully implemented across many faculties at McMaster.
Gibson believes that not only will PGCLL be valuable for student education, but that the size and scale of PGCLL will provide a central “hub” for student life on campus.
“In PGCLL, we expect to see up to 2,200 students going to/from class every hour or an hour and a half; this represents 18 per cent of the total classroom space on campus,” said Gibson. “In addition, the Student Wellness Centre handles over 50 000 student appointments a year and our on-site student residence will be home to 518 students during the academic year.
The 518 students will be distributed between four different residence room types. All students in these rooms also incur a $40 residence life fee per year.
During Welcome Week, students were moved into PGCLL while it was still undergoing construction. Classes which were scheduled to take place in PGCLL have been relocated due to the fact that the building is incomplete. With over two months left until the projected completion date, it is unclear whether changes will need to be made to ensure the safety and comfort of students living in PGCLL.
This will likely not be the last renovation project on McMaster’s campus. Potential future prospects include a Main Street West residence, a grad residence downtown, and a Bates redevelopment project. In addition, the Student Activity Building is projected to be ready for summer 2020.