Old Main becoming New Old Main
More than $7 million in provincial funding to complete the facelift of the Old Main Building will go a long way to improve conditions for students in the law school at Thompson Rivers University.
John Yap, B.C.'s minister of advanced education, was at TRU on Tuesday, Oct. 9, to announce the province's $7.4-million contribution to the project, which is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
"This is significant when you consider we're in difficult fiscal times," Yap said after the announcement. "We still need to make the important investments in post-secondary education."
TRU's law school just began its second year of operation.
Since opening, the school has been housed temporarily inside the Brown Family House of Learning (HOL) building on TRU's campus.
Second-year law student Jay Michi said the set-up has been less than ideal.
"We've actually been really lucky because we landed in a pretty nice brand-new building, but HOL was never designed to house the law school," he said.
"HOL is a learning commons. The way it's designed, it can be a little loud.
"It gets very frustrating, especially around exam times."
Michi said students are looking forward to having their own space.
"Law students can be quite territorial," he said.
"It has been an issue. But, once the space [Old Main] is completed and configured, it will be essentially dedicated to law students."
The Old Main re-design will include classroom, office and common space for the law school on the third and fourth floors.
The first phase of construction — the construction of a wavy roof line and increased square-footage — is nearing completion.
"This is going to be one of the most beautiful educational facilities in Canada," said Alan Shaver, TRU's president, calling the building "a functional piece of art.
"It's going to transform the Old Main building into the New Old Main building."
Chris Axworthy, dean of TRU's law school, said the faculty is looking forward to the move as much as the students are.
"Nothing compares to being able to know that we have . . . a world-class facility," he said.
"The students deserve that and it will happen with this new building.
"My only fear is that we'll all be looking out the windows instead of doing our work.
"We look forward to building a law school that is the envy of British Columbia. We will do that together in this fine building."
The total cost of the overhaul to Old Main — which was built in 1971 — is expected to be nearly $20 million.
The renovations will add more than 40,000 square feet over one-and-a-half storeys.