University Centre reopening schedule modified due to unexpected conditions

Unexpected building conditions in the University Centre means the reopening schedule of the building has been revised
McGill’s University Centre has being undergoing essential upgrades. Photo: Neale McDevitt

The discovery earlier this month of unexpected building conditions that will require additional work in the University Centre has forced the team leading the renovation project to revise the reopening schedule of the building.

These are conditions that can only be uncovered once the workers start opening walls and ceilings, such as old equipment that must be removed or replaced or design features that will complicate the work that is planned.

The initial work schedule would have allowed a gradual reopening of the building, starting with some portions of the two basement levels by late August 2018, followed by the first and second floors by late October and a completion of the project in early 2019.

However, in order not to delay the full completion of the project significantly, the team has had to revise the order in which some of the work will be done, and a gradual reopening of the floors is no longer feasible.

The University Centre, leased to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), has been closed since late March 2018 so the University can proceed with essential upgrades. The building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system must be replaced, as it is as old as the building, which was built in 1965. The new system will make the building more energy efficient and more comfortable. The project also includes the replacement of the building’s electrical distribution system and the upgrade of its fire alarm system.

As replacing HVAC systems involves opening walls and ceilings, the University is removing the asbestos they contain at the same time. Asbestos was commonly used at the time the University Centre was built, but it does not pose a threat to human health if left undisturbed. The University follows a strict safety protocol for any asbestos abatement work.