Introducing Desautels’ new Donald E. Armstrong Building

On Jan. 8, the Donald E. Armstrong Building - formerly the McGill bookstore building on McTavish - opened its doors as the new home of the Desautels Faculty of Management's Master's programs. Named after the creator and first director of McGill's MBA program, the Armstrong Building provides 48,666 additional square feet to Desautels.
Mary Dellar teaches the Services Marketing course to a BCom class in the Donald E. Armstrong Building’s brand new 75-seat tiered classroom.

Former bookstore building on McTavish now home to Desautels’ Master’s programs

The first thing McGillians familiar with the former layout are likely to notice when they enter the building that sits at 3420 McTavish St. is the staircase.

Moving it from the centre of the floor to the right-hand side not only helped reconfigure what was previously a large open space into many rooms, it also serves as an invitation to users to walk up to the second and third floors rather than take the elevator.

“The staircase really is the signature element [of the new design],” says Christine Lavoie, of CIMA+, who oversaw the transformation of the former bookstore building for Facilities Management and Ancillary Services.

Now the home of the Desautels Faculty of Management’s Master’s programs, the Donald E. Armstrong Building – named after the creator and first director of McGill’s MBA program – provides 48,666 additional square feet to Desautels.

The 17.6 M$ renovation project took 16 months to complete and was entirely funded by private donors.

More study space, underground connection to Bronfman

When it came time to decide what they wanted in the new building, Desautels surveyed their students to find out what they felt was missing in the Bronfman Building.

“They wanted more group study rooms and more quiet study space so that is what we have provided for them [in the Armstrong Building] and in the space that has now been freed up in Bronfman,” says Michelle Forsythe, Building Director of both buildings.

The new layout also includes six classrooms, a teaching lab and interview rooms, as well as an event space on the third floor.

Most of the classrooms were put on the first floors in order to avoid congestion problems like the ones experienced next door.

“In Bronfman, there are two 90-seat and one 55-seat classrooms on the fourth floor which means that every hour and a half there are several hundred people going up or coming down. It leads to lineups at the elevators,” Forsythe says.

The first level of the basement has been fully opened up and its space converted into classrooms and meeting rooms for BCom students. It also connects the Armstrong Building to the Bronfman Building.

Promenade urbaine project among challenges

As the circulation in the building is now much higher, the number of washrooms has had to be increased, of course, but also the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) capacity.

“There was only one electromechanical room before; now there are four. The ventilation ducts take up two to three times more space than they did before,” says Julien Gariépy, Assistant Project Manager, also from CIMA+.

By far the biggest challenge for the project managers was being surrounded by the City of Montreal’s construction projects on McTavish St. and Sherbrooke St., which started at about the same time as this one and reduced the amount of exterior space available to the Armstrong crews.

Still, Desautels was able to open the building as planned on Jan. 8, 2018, in time for the Winter semester.

“This project was a success for us, as we were able to deliver it not only on time but under budget,” says Christine Lavoie.

Dean Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, red jacket, celebrated the start of classes in the new Donald E. Armstrong Building with students, professors and staff members.


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James Mendt
6 years ago

Never ever seen a research university without a bookstore building of its own, and whose bookstore is not located on campus.
So sorry of the old campus bookstore (now part of the Faculty of Management and renamed Armstrong Building) and so sorry for the declining fate of McGill (just look at the worldwide rankings each year).