The fall semester is just getting started, but there was no summer break for the planning and renovation work at Memorials new Battery property.
Memorial purchased the iconic property, home of the former Battery Hotel, in March 2013. Since then, various units and groups have been making plans about the future of the space.
The first step was to address some of the planned maintenance and upgrades, said Jordan Wright, project co-ordinator with the Battery Executive Management Committee. We knew that the building was generally sound, but there were a number of smaller items that needed attention.
Current projects include replacing windows in the office tower at the front of the building (scheduled to begin later this fall), assessing the financial and heritage value of the buildings contents and preparing for appropriate removal or reuse.
Discussions related to the space and programming needs of the planned core tenants of the Battery property are also taking place. The Graduate Students Union (GSU), Harris Centre, Gardiner Centre, Genesis Centre and Office of Public Engagement have all been consulted about the type of space they will need as the initial tenants of the building.
The Battery property will provide dedicated residence space for graduate students, planned in consultation with the GSU. In addition, the property will become a public engagement hub by establishing a university presence in downtown St. Johns (provincial participation will be facilitated by technology), while also addressing some of Memorials pressing space needs.
There has also been significant planning related to potential enhancements to the building and property. In August a request for expressions of interest was issued, seeking conceptual planning concepts for the adaptive reuse of the former hotel. Proposals were received, from both local and national architectural and planning companies, and are currently under assessment. The successful bidder will complete the work this fall. The final product of the process will be a conceptual master plan that will provide guidance and inspiration as the project advances.
The Battery property is an opportunity to extend Memorials reach and relevance in this province, said President Kachanoski. This project, along with our Teaching and Learning, Research Strategy and Public Engagement Frameworks and our new vision, mission and values reflect a true desire to distinguish Memorial as a top public university in Canada and beyond.
Consultation is expected to begin in the New Year, and will provide opportunities for those inside and outside Memorial to share input and ideas related to public engagement programming at the Battery property.