July 24, 2019

Social Work’s big move

This summer, the University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work is moving its Calgary campus to a spectacular new location on main campus
MacKimmie Tower

The Faculty of Social Work is relocating to the third and fourth floors of the new MacKimmie Tower.

Faculty and staff of the University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work had a summer of boxes, packing tape and memory sharing as the faculty moved from its home of 26 years to the third and fourth floors of the new MacKimmie Tower.

If you attended school at the UCalgary campus, you might remember the building as the old “Library Tower,” however, while the general shape of the new MacKimmie Tower resembles the old library, little else is the same. To save an enormous amount of money, while reducing waste and environmental impact, the architects used the tower’s existing concrete structure. (It’s estimated this approach saved more than 3,300 t of CO2e of Global Warming Potential (GWP).)

From the outside the building looks sleek, modern and airy thanks to the new superstructure and unique double-skin glass façade. This design creates an insulating air envelope around the building that responds to changing weather conditions.The façade is part of a design approach that will make the redeveloped MacKimmie Tower one of the most energy-efficient buildings on a Canadian post-secondary campus. In fact, the goal is for the tower to be net carbon neutral. Solar panels on the roof and façade produce carbon-free renewable energy to offset the annual carbon emissions associated with building operations.

The old “Library Block,” attached to the MacKimmie tower is also being redeveloped and will eventually provide the faculty with state-of-the-art classrooms, including new observational classrooms to enhance clinical Social Work skill instruction. The new complex will also provide new student study space and community-building shared spaces for meeting and socializing.

Of course, moving is never easy, and while the new space will provide a vibrant new home for Social Work, the next few years will bring some challenges for students, faculty and staff. Every new class of Social Work students is given a wooden key, handmade by the Calgary Drop-In Centre Woodshop. The keys are engraved with a social work value. For the class of 2021 the social work value they’ll be asked to hold close is “community.”

“Our associate dean of teaching and learning, Dr. Jessica Ayala, suggested that this should be the theme for the next year or so,” explains Dean of the Faculty of Social Work, Dr. Jackie Sieppert. “We’ll have some growing pains over the next few years and our classes will likely be located across campus. We’ll all have to work together to keep the value of 'community' strong in our faculty. However, I’m confident that, as social workers and future social workers, we’ll come through this challenge stronger than we were before.”

This is the third location of the Faculty of Social Work. The Faculty of Social Welfare was originally housed in the old Arts building (now Administration) before moving to the 11th floor of the Social Sciences Tower until 1993. The new address of the Calgary faculty location is 434 University Crt. NW., Calgary, AB, Canada, T2N 1N4