This month, BuildSFU is offering students a chance to have a say in the functionality and location of a new Student Union Building (SUB) on the Burnaby campus. The group is offering a survey, open houses, and focus groups for students to meet with the architects to express their opinions about the three locations and the specific programming of the building.
BuildSFU is currently considering three locations for the new building: “Mainstreet,” located above the Transportation Centre between Bennett Library and West Mall Centre; “Treehouse,” located north from the West Mall Centre across University Drive (formerly the location of the on-campus gas station); and Crossroads, located east of the Maggie Benston Centre, next to the Academic Quadrangle.
BuildSFU is trying to engage students in the project in order to give them a building that is best suited to them, according to BuildSFU general manager Marc Fontaine. The SUB campaign is aiming to raise student awareness of the project, and to provide them a chance to give feedback on the shortlisted locations.
This will also give the architects, from selected firm Perkins+Will, a chance to hear what the SFU community would like in the spaces, to help determine not only where the building should go, but how to divide the building among different student services.
According to Fontaine, programming decisions may revolve around, for instance, “food services versus lounge space, or office space, space for clubs or departmental student unions . . . more group meeting rooms, or more open study lounges.” This input will allow the building to be “whatever students want it to be,” said Fontaine.
The online survey will be released via Connect SFU on Sept. 9, and will include questions concerning what it is like being a student at SFU Burnaby, where students spend their time, why they spend it where they do, and ideas about what a new building could do to “enhance their university experience and make it that much better,” according to Fontaine. As extra motivation, those who complete the survey will be entered to win a Whistler Prize Pack, which includes a 2 night stay at a hotel, $200 in gift certificates, and a coffee gift pack.
This input will allow the building to be “whatever students want it to be,” said Fontaine.
The architects from Perkins+Will plan to be at the Burnaby campus often during September, to meet with the SFSS and Student Advisory Committee. They will also attend open houses, which are open to all members of the SFU community, and focus groups, which will be open solely to undergraduate students towards whom the building will be geared.
According to BuildSFU.ca, different focus groups are better suited to different types of undergraduate students, including resident students, new students, and those involved in athletics and recreation.
BuildSFU is asking those in the SFU community to consider six aspects of each site location in order to make an informed decision about the sites. Namely: location, proximity, servicing, site preparation, identity, and views, aspects which could make the site more or less accessible, iconic, or recognizable.
After the meetings in September, the project architects will be returning to the Burnaby campus in October to present their ideas about the sites and ensure that their views match those of the community, and to consider revision if necessary.
“The project is happening now,” said Fontaine. “The Student Union Building is going ahead . . . but without student feedback, the building cannot possibly be as good as it could be.” This month, he said, students need to take advantage of the opportunity to speak up about what they want in this project, to make their own university experience better.
Fontaine concluded: “Now is the time.”