A sea of yellow caution tape and electrical wiring is what Concordia University students will see on their first official day of classes on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
The Henry F. Hall building is undergoing renovations inside and massive construction outside. All through the summer months, ongoing roadwork on De Maisonneuve Blvd. has blocked the main entrance to the building.
According to University spokesperson Chris Mota, the main entrance is expected to reopen on Thursday, Sept. 6 but this will only be accessible through a fenced-off section from Mackay St.
The city of Montreal is revamping De Maisonneuve Blvd. between Bishop St. and St-Mathieu St. by repaving the road, installing a bike path, adding green space and extending the sidewalk.
Allison Savage, a first-year undergraduate student at Concordia, decided to tour the downtown campus early so she could find her way around come the first day of school. When she arrived on campus, Savage said she was unsure of where to go because of the renovations inside and outside of the Hall building.
“I was 10 times more confused because of the construction,” she explained. “I found it very inconvenient.”
Savage went on to say that the first week of the semester might be difficult for first years taking classes in the Hall building specifically due to repairs.
“If new students are unfamiliar with how to get around in the first place, they will be confused because of construction,” said Savage.
On the other hand, the university administration insists it has a plan to ensure that the first week goes smoothly despite the construction. The university expects the repaving between Guy St. and St-Mathieu St. to be done in time for the first day of classes, while the portion between Bishop St. and Mackay St. is expected to be completed in late September.
The university is co-ordinating with the police to help direct traffic and pedestrians from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Dean of Students office plans to have a group of students in yellow shirts acting as greeters outside the Hall building and the J.W. McConnell Library building to guide new and returning students to their classes.
The university shuttle bus that runs between the two campuses will stop at the corner of Mackay and Ste-Catherine until construction is completed.
Regarding the inside of the Hall building, renovations on the escalators which began last semester are still ongoing.
Although the escalators from the mezzanine to fifth floor are functional, new escalators need to be installed from the fifth to seventh floors. The new escalators are slated for completion sometime in December. Escalators between the seventh and 12th floors are also operational.
The dysfunctional escalators are a continual source of disruption and frustration for many students, including Caelie Smith, an urban planning student who has courses in the upper floors of the Hall building.
“I usually have classes on the renovated floors,” said Smith. “But the rest of the building is a disaster.”
Since 1998, the Hall building has undergone several changes to modernize the deteriorating structure. According to Martine Lehoux, the university’s director of facilities planning and development, floors can only be refurbished when they are not in use.
In 2003, science departments were moved to the Richard J. Renaud Science Pavillion on the Loyola campus and the eighth, 11th and 12th floors were redone. In 2005, the western section of the seventh floor was renovated following the move of the department of applied human sciences to Loyola.
The university has plans to renovate the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh floors of the Hall building from 2014 to 2015 depending upon funding approval.