Some of NAIT’s buildings can leave a little – or a lot – to be desired for aesthetics and many students would attest to the benefits of more coffee on campus.
The new Centre for Applied Technologies building under construction north of the HP Centre will offer both and much more. The CAT building is on track to be completed for the beginning of classes in September, welcoming students from Health, Business, Engineering Technologies and Sustainable Building and Environmental Management programs.
At 530,000 square feet, the building includes almost 60 classrooms, 45 labs and simulation rooms, lots of student study space and approximately 800 stairs. Capturing the trend in educational spaces, the CAT building’s design and interiors hit a pleasing balance between modern, clean spaces and bright pops of colour.
Project Director Lou Zoldan says one of his favourite features is the dramatic Main Street and atrium of the building. “If you look to the south end of the building, there are three stories, almost 60 feet, of open volume – open air,” he said during a recent tour of the site.
“If you’re on the main floor looking up you’ll see three levels of the building itself, the corridors, the exposed concrete, the glass.”
One of the things that makes the building an incredible space is the attention to detail and quality in the design elements going into all of the spaces, including quiet glass walled office spaces and meeting areas in the program offices, recessed ceilings and funky modern LED fixtures, or the individually set tiles in the bathroom walls. Despite the vast size of the project, the attention to design has been equally given to all of the spaces, from the statement of the glass and exposed concrete in the atrium to the pops of colour in the many student lounges throughout the building.
“It’s been great,” Zoldan says about the construction process and workmanship. “A lot of the subtrades that are working here really love working on this project. It’s a huge building and it has all kinds of interesting challenges. Most of all is that a lot of the trades went to NAIT to do their apprenticeship, it’s a great clean safe site … I see a lot of the pride coming through in the work.”
The trades people aren’t the only ones who are NAIT alumni; Zoldan is a 1982 alumnus of the Construction Engineering Technology program.
He says he didn’t really think much of it at first but he says that “as more people found out I was an alumnus … the more I realized, ‘Yeah, I am. This is kinda crazy!’ I take a lot of pride in that, it’s great.”
There are over 300 people working on the building on an average day now that things are starting to fall into place. They’re currently at about 75 per cent completion and after three more months of heavy construction, expect to be moving into finishing and testing in May and June before the equipment and furniture begins to arrive in preparation for the start of classes in the fall.
All new post-secondary education buildings receiving funding from the provincial government must meet LEED standards of silver or better. LEED certification reflects a project’s performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
Some of the features the CAT building includes are energy-efficient windows, LED lighting throughout the building, efficient cooling and heating and much more.
Students less interested in design and architectural details will be pleased to hear that the building will be home to both a Starbucks and a Tim Hortons, a vibrant computer commons with more than 90 positions and a wealth of much-needed study spaces.
Danielle S. Fuechtmann