Renovations are well underway on the trades building at the Northwest Community College, with the big two-storey glass entrance taking shape.
The new entryway extends 35-feet farther out than the prior wall, opening up a 4,000-square foot student common area with a high-ceiling, tables, chairs, and a redesigned bookstore and cafe.
In addition to the large new entrance, the modernization also includes glass walls between classrooms and workshops, a seismic structural reinforcement, a complete overhaul of the building’s electrical systems and a new system for dust extraction.
The project started last spring and NWCC director of facilities Kerry Clarke says they are on schedule for completion August 2018.
The welding, electrical, and carpentry bays on the south side of the building, as well as the tool crib, are being slightly reconfigured, with glass-walled classrooms and new huddle spaces to run adjacent to the shops. The huddle spaces have lockers, a white board and a few chairs for brief planning meetings.
The glass walls will connect the shops, huddle space and classrooms.
“You can see from the corridor into the classroom, and then into the shop, so you can see all the way through,” explained Clarke, adding that from his knowledge, glass walls don’t appear to hinder the learning environment.
“We’ve looked at other colleges that have done a similar thing, and it hasn’t had an impact,” he said.
College spokesperson Sarah Zimmerman said the aim is to give the building a real trades-feel, with work-type environments including huddle spaces, and a mechanical room on display.
During renovations, the electrical program is being run at the Northwest Trades & Employment Training Centre (NTEC), previously the Thornhill Junior school.
Nursing has moved to the academic building where IT was previously, and IT relocated to the longhouse.
Automotive, welding and carpentry have been shifted around slightly within the trades building, but continue there around the renovations, with some of that work finished in the summer before programs started.
The project is funded $18.4 million by the provincial and federal governments, and close to $200,000 by Northwest Community College and its private donors.