WORK has started on gutting the five large shops within Northwest Community College’s trades building leading toward an extensive renovation of the aging structure at its Terrace campus.
The $18 million-plus project first began with moving programs and services, including its bookstore, out of the building.
“We’ve had to do a lot of prep work to get people out of the spaces,” said college president Ken Burt.
“That’s meant internal shuffles and it may be a little tighter in some spaces.”
The college has also moved several programs to the former Thornhill Junior Secondary School, now the Coast Mountains School District’s Northwest Trades and Employment Training Centre.
There are three construction phases to the project which is scheduled for completion August 2018.
First up is the gutting of the trades building’s tool crib and its five main shops, work that’s already underway.
“These are going to be completely rebuilt and we want four ready by September,” said Burt.
The second phase is a complete redesign of the classrooms on the south side of the trades building, the ones right beside the shops.
“We’re also going to be creating study alcoves – study hubs along there as well, said Burt.
The current renovation plan doesn’t call for work on the classrooms on the north side of the trades building.
And one of the more dramatic facets of the interior renovation will be adding large windows so that people walking down the trades building’s main central corridor will be able to see into the shops.
“So you’ll now be able to see what’s going on in those shops,” said Burt.
But the most striking part of the trades building overhaul will be the addition of a towering glass atrium for a brand new west-facing main entrance.
It means a build out of the current building footprint toward the main college parking lot.
Burt said advances in building material technology, in this circumstance multi-paned glass panels, means more light pouring into the building combined with energy efficiency.
The atrium portion is scheduled for an August 2018 completion.
The renovated trades building is just the first part of a substantial structure overhaul intended for the college’s main campus.
Next up are new dorms to replace current buildings now several decades old and unsuitable for modern day student living, said Burt.
“We have no food services for them, no kitchens,” he said.
The current dorm bed count is 140, including a workcamp-style complex located away from the other residences.
Burt said a business plan for 200 rooms has been approved by the provincial government and the college is now waiting to hear if the money for the $34 million project has also been approved. The current residences will be demolished but the workcamp may stay to give trades students an idea of camp life.