Sept. 29, 2014

Making space for an improved student experience

Provost CAR/FAR funding prioritizes renovation projects submitted by faculties


Colin Brandt

The atrium in the Administration Building is one of the new study spaces featuring upgraded furniture, Wi-Fi and electrical supply.

The atrium is one of the new study spaces featuring upgraded furniture, Wi-Fi and electrical supply.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Students returning to class this semester may find their old haunts — classrooms, libraries, laboratories, study areas and offices — are in an altered state after a summer spent in plastic sheeting and under the influence of power tools.

And as the construction noise dies out to make room for newly upgraded spaces, many have the Office of the Provost to thank for their new environments, thanks to the Classroom Alteration Request (CAR) and Facility Alteration Request (FAR) initiative.  

University funds, universal priorities

Started in the 2012-2013 academic year, the CAR/FAR initiative invites faculties to submit requests for classroom, learning space and facility renovations that improve the quality of the teaching, learning, and research environment at the university, as well as those spaces that support them. These renovations ensure that a high-quality learning environment is provided both inside and outside the classroom. Faculties may also use a portion of their own money to top up the funds provided by CAR/FAR, allowing for more comprehensive and effective change to existing spaces.

For Mark Scharf, facilities director in the project management office, the CAR/FAR initiatives are a unique opportunity to work with every faculty on campus, regardless of their size and budget.

“CAR/FAR is a unique program at the university, as the funds are specifically focused on improving the student experience and teaching spaces and come directly out of the university’s own internal budget,” says Scharf. “This shows a real commitment to improving the quality of spaces for all students, regardless of faculty.”

Turning dungeons into discoveries

Overall, the CAR/FAR initiative has contributed more than $22 million to fund 57 projects across all university campuses. For Florentine Strzelczyk, vice-dean of the Faculty of Arts, CAR/FAR was an opportunity to turn C110 in Craigie Hall into a new space for the Department of Linguistics, Languages and Cultures — an active learning classroom focused on language learning and linguistics.

The new classroom was outfitted with Smart Boards, collaborative seating and both individual and class-sized sound systems, each designed to take advantage of innovations in both technology and teaching languages and linguistics.

“Without the funding, we wouldn’t have been able to even use that room,” says Strzelczyk, citing complaints from students about poor lighting and air quality. “Its nickname among the students was ‘The Dungeon’; now it’s the showcase for the entire department, offering new opportunities for both students and faculty to engage fully with a great teaching and learning experience.”

The new active learning classroom in Craigie Hall is outfitted with Smart Boards, collaborative seating and both individual and class-sized sound systems, each designed to take advantage of innovations in both technology and teaching languages and linguistics.

Craigie Hall's new active learning classroom features take advantage of new teaching innovations.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Check out the list below for all the projects completed via CAR/FAR since its inception.

2014-'15 projects

  • Updated Clara Christie teaching theatre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences and undergraduate medical education programs
  • Updated the Gallagher Library, providing improved space to support science and engineering research and learning
  • Physically consolidated faculty, graduate students and staff in recently-amalgamated Department of Linguistics, Languages and Cultures
  • Supported renovation of the fifth floor of the Education Tower to create improved research, graduate student and faculty spaces (expected completion by summer 2015)
  • Upgraded furniture, Wi-Fi and electrical supply to approximately 650 study seats in the Administration Building atrium, the MacKimmie Tower basement, and the second floor MacKimmie Link and Block
  • Expanded the capacity and upgraded technology in a well-used Faculty of Law classroom
  • Upgraded student gathering and study space on the main floor of the Professional Faculties Building for the Faculty of Nursing (to be completed October 2014)
  • Upgraded Haskayne's MBA student study area with new furniture and improved Wi-Fi
  • Upgraded Faculty of Social Work classrooms, including new flooring and painting
  • Supported Faculty of Kinesiology administrative activities, expanding faculty and staff into an unused space
  • Reconfigured Libraries and Cultural Resources workspace to allow for more efficient receipt and processing of new materials and donations
  • Constructed space to support the new makeCalgary community-based research program.
  • Created a separate, quiet study space for Veterinary Medicine students on Spy Hill Campus
  • Improve the sight lines in a social work classroom for students studying in the University of Lethbridge satellite location

2013-'14 projects

  • Expanded and upgraded a classroom to create a technology-rich active learning environment for language education
  • Upgraded an EVDS classroom and presentation space, improving technology, lighting and atmosphere while increasing room capacity
  • Created welcoming, modern spaces for the use of Haskayne student clubs
  • Upgraded Foothills Campus human anatomy instruction and support spaces
  • Redeveloped Nursing’s learning resource area into an instructional laboratory and reconfigured support spaces to expand the capacity of clinical instruction facilities
  • Upgraded Zoology Invertebrate and Vertebrate undergraduate teaching laboratories
  • Expand the Faculty of Arts' student services hub to provide improved advising support
  • Supported renovation of the Education Tower’s fourth, eighth and ninth floors to create improved research, clinical education, graduate student and faculty spaces
  • Combined two small graduate student offices to create larger, welcoming workspace for Kinesiology students
  • Upgraded the university's Main Campus human physiology undergraduate teaching lab
  • Upgraded technology in Social Work clinical practice rooms
  • Upgraded furniture in primary Veterinary Medicine classrooms for greater flexibility and utility
  • Supported the planning phase for the creation of the new makeCalgary community-based research program, housing a full-size state of the art digital visualization simulator
  • Provided funding for a CFI-supported Psychology research clinic, for knowledge transfer and utilization of evidence-based psychosocial treatments
  • Upgraded exterior spaces for better animal accommodation, and improved faculty and student access in Veterinary Medicine
The CAR/FAR funded update to the Gallagher Library provides improved space to support science and engineering research and learning.

The CAR/FAR funded update to the Gallagher Library provides improved space to support research.

Dave Brown, University of Calgary

2012-'13 projects

  • Upgraded Craigie Complex drama classrooms to create pleasant rehearsal and teaching space for dance, drama and music instruction
  • Combined two small Haskayne teaching spaces to create a single large, accessible and technologically enhanced classroom
  • Replaced flooring in nursing’s clinical teaching area to support hands-on education
  • Renovated a Schulich theatre to create modern, comfortable teaching space
  • Upgraded a research laboratory filtration system to support precise archeological specimen analysis
  • Redeveloped the second floor of the Education Tower to support the Werklund School of Education's Undergraduate Programs office, English for Academic Purposes program, academic student club and informal student gathering spaces
  • Created a wet lab in the Mechanical Engineering Building to support the high demand for research space
  • Created a research lab to support interdisciplinary research in medicinal chemistry
  • Upgraded the Department of Psychology's Industrial Organization research team space with improved testing and interview rooms, a computer lab, and quality graduate student workspace
  • Expanded and improved high-end graphics computer laboratory for Environmental Design (EVDS) teaching and research
  • Provided upgraded and technologically-rich space for Kinesiology’s human physiology experiential learning
  • Provided equipment for the Cumming School of Medicine's Advanced Technical Skills Simulation Lab, a state-of-the-art clinical education space supporting physicians, health-care professionals and trainees
  • Upgraded technology in Social Work clinical practice rooms
  • Created a central student services hub for the newly-amalgamated Faculty of Arts on the main floor of the Social Sciences building
  • Upgraded EVDS wet lab and created space for graduate student workstations
  • Created new and improved EVDS PhD student workspaces
  • Improved safety and service to research labs through the installation of a nitrogen gas distribution system to select Science B spaces
  • Contributed to the renovation of space for the Cumming School of Medicine's Live Cell Imaging research facility, enabling research using the best imaging equipment available for research
  • Upgraded space to create a high quality wet research laboratory for oil and gas research for SSE
  • Renovated two wet laboratories for Veterinary Medicine researchers to support the priority research themes of pain and animal welfare and reproductive and regenerative medicine