By Nikayla Goddard, May 5 2020 —
With the campus empty in light of COVID-19 isolation practices and an incoming online spring/summer semester, one corner of campus shows new signs of activity. Construction for the Haskayne School of Business’ Mathison Hall has begun, the start of a two-year project that will create a new four storey 10,000 square meter space separate from — but connected to — Scurfield Hall. The new building will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certified, meaning it meets a variety of green and energy cognizant requirements as well as a focus on well-being, productivity and ergonomics.
Scurfield Hall opened in 1984, and since then the business programs have expanded to accommodate four times the original 1,000 student enrollment. Mathison Hall will address the higher business student population and the significant space crunch. The new building will consist of a dozen new classrooms — ranging in size from 40 to 100 seats — as well as new spaces for study, group work, student advising, food services and events.
“This is a critical time for the school to expand in support of our strategic growth and bold vision and will add significant capacity for unparalleled learning, innovative research and meaningful community engagement,” said Dean of the Haskayne School of Business Jim Dewald in a press release. “We are creating a home for our students and bringing all business classes back to the business school with new places to collaborate, study and learn.”
Some have expressed concerns over the safety of the construction workers in light of COVID-19 isolation practices, but Dewald says that the contractor has Alberta Occupational Health and Safety consultations in place and have created feasible and safe working practices.
“They’ve actually identified very specific protocols for health standards related to COVID, which includes practicing good health, practicing social distancing, performing enhanced premium sanitation and, when possible, working from home,” he explained, adding that the contractors sent them the protocols and they were impressed by them.
In regards to impact to student experience, Dewald said that they are being mindful of limiting closing off any areas of Scurfield Hall and isolating disruptions to times of low student presence, such as over the summer or during reading breaks. Because Mathison Hall is a separate building adjacent to Scurfield, the only time there will be any significant interruptions to the business of Scurfield will be when the connection hallway between the two buildings are made.
Beyond increasing capacity, Dewald says that three main goals were considered when starting the conversation of Mathison Hall. First, that upon the completion of Mathison Hall, it and Scurfield would feel like one continuous space internally. Secondly, it provides a “second home” for students, with quiet study spaces, nice views, 40 different break out rooms and more. Third, it makes a “strong architectural statement that says ‘This is a world class business school’.”
Dewald concluded, “The long-term benefits of this building just can’t be understated. It’s going to provide really the best space in Canada for a business school and it should attract the best and the brightest for sure.”