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Landmark building on Memorial’s St. John’s campus gets makeover

Michael Foley and Jason Adams of Facilities Management in the new HKR lecture theatre.

By Michelle Osmond

The pride was obvious on the faces of Mike Foley and Jason Adams as they listened to speakers at the opening of a new lecture theatre recently. On Sept. 16, the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation (HKR) officially opened a brand new theatre in the Physical Education building. But it's not just new -- it is state of the art and looks like nothing else on campus.

It was a project that Mr. Foley, a projects co-ordinator, and Mr. Adams, a project technologist, both from Facilities Management, got excited about from the get go when they realized this was not just a renovation; it was something they could take some design liberties with to create a space that is truly unique.

"Not only were the dean and his team invested, but they were on board from day one with our vision of the space and how it would function and look," said Mr. Foley. "It was refreshing to work with a group that was so open minded and who had confidence in Facilities Management's ability to produce a quality space. That's exciting."

The renovation was not a small job. Mr. Foley said they spent countless hours planning the layout, function, design and aesthetics and several more weeks finding contractors who could make it a reality.

"We soon realized this project required a full demolition and reconstruction of the space compared to similar projects that largely incorporate architectural upgrades only. For example, because of the age of the building we were required to safely remove the existing hazardous materials used in the original construction, adding to the complexity of co-ordinating a construction project in an occupied building."

The theatre, which seats 137 students, cost about half a million dollars to complete and includes two digital, high definition projectors; two 10-foot-wide screens; a smart podium for the instructor; and a 42-inch confidence monitor hung from the ceiling which allows instructors to see slides or presentation material without turning around.

The lecture theatre opening coincided with a refurbishing of the front lobby of the Physical Education Building (see related story page 9). A project that the dean, Dr. Antony Card, believes was long overdue.

"We have a facility that is so different from anything else on campus. And we now have a foyer that reflects how diverse we are as a school. It's a space that students can gather in and feel like they can enjoy, which is great to see. It has brought new life to the building and we're extremely excited about that," said Dr. Card.