Thursday, December 18, 2014
Last updated: 1 week ago

New student centre in sight for UBC’s engineers

Courtesy of UBC Properties Trust

Expect to see a little bit more pride than usual from engineers during E-Week. One of the final open house events before detailed design begins was held on Thursday for the proposed replacement of the infamous engineering student space, the Cheeze Factory.

“I don’t think there is anyone who can tell you we don’t need a new one. Our [current] building is too small, it’s old, rundown, and been condemned twice…It is time for something new,” said EUS VP Finance and third-year electrical engineering student Ian Campbell.

The current building is set to be demolished in the second half of this year, and the new Engineering Student Centre is expected to be finished by spring 2013.

Students approved the project to replace the aging facility—which turns 93 this year—during a 2008 Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) referendum.

But the EUS is still looking for about $2 million in funding.

Students already agreed through referendum to finance $2.6 million of the building through student fees, which at this point the university acknowledges as being paid. The final $2.6 million is meant to come from fundraising and alumni donations—$600,000 of which has already been collected.

UBC’s Development and Alumni Engagement office is still actively seeking support for the shortfall, and student lead fundraiser on the project, Tagg Jefferson, said the EUS has been assured that funding will be secured.

“The development office and central development have come forward and said it’s an easy project to fundraise for…it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Lead architect Shelley Craig, from Vancouver-based Urban Arts Architecture, emphasized the importance of the centre to the future of campus construction.

“I think this a really seminal building for UBC in terms of the engagement process and how it’s really taken time to figure out how this building can be the best it can be for the students. It’s really student driven, and I think that is what makes it so unique,” said Craig.

The building will meet the university-required LEED gold certification for sustainability. Features of significance for engineers include a live circuit board that covers the entrance of the building, displaying current building information as well as explaining the science behind its technology.

While the Cheeze, which currently holds the title of oldest standing building on campus, will be missed, the new centre will allow more students to find their home away from home.

First-year engineering student Mire Farah is excited for facility to open. “It’s better when you have more people in your same faculty to help you out. And there’s upper years there, too, so there’s more experienced people there to help each other.”

But Campbell is bittersweet about the end of the Cheeze.

“I think it will [be missed] by the people who hang out there regularly, but that’s also a very small subset of the population,” said Campbell. However, he noted, “I think [the new centre] will give us the chance to bring a lot more people in. I know I’ll certainly miss it just for sentimental value and the traditions it represented.”

CORRECTION: The article originally said the the event was the last open house for the building, when instead it was the last community open house before detailed design begins. The article also incorrectly placed the shortfall in funding on student contribution, when in fact the portion that is left is meant to come from alumni donations. The Ubyssey regrets the errors.