Student space, greenery, athletic facilities discussed

by Barbara Black

Student executives made a pitch for their own building at an open meeting held last week on the university's long-term space proposal. For details on the plan, see the March 2 issue of CTR.

However, they were told that the Guy Metro Building, which is slated to hold offices for both the university administration and student associations, will be transformed into attractive space, accessible to the street for walk-in student clientele, with indoor walkways to other university buildings. The GM building, currently home to the Faculty of Commerce and Administration, can't properly house classrooms because its ceilings are too low.

The students also wanted assurance that there will be green space on the nature-starved downtown campus. Concordia Student Union (CSU) president Rob Green said he is glad to see that the plan calls for a partial greening of Mackay St. on the west side of the Henry F. Hall Building. Garry Milton, Executive Director of the Rector's Cabinet, told the audience of about 150 people that he hopes to see the concrete area on the north side of the Hall Building made into a green atrium.

CSU vice-president Claude Jacob has presented a proposal to the planners for "green roofs" to provide grass and shrubbery on elevated portions of the new downtown buildings, and both Milton and Rector Frederick Lowy, who conducted the meeting, said that the idea is being seriously considered.

A number of students and part-time employees asked why the first-phase plans call for expansion of the athletics complex at Loyola when better downtown recreation facilities are so badly needed by larger numbers of students. Several speakers mentioned the rather poor access to the west-end campus from downtown.

Lowy and Milton said that much-expanded recreation facilities will go into the first phase of the new Commerce and Administration Building planned for the southwest corner of Guy St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd. Other facilities are being considered in the short term if the decrepit Victoria School gym becomes unusable before new facilities are built.

There were no questions from working faculty members, although a number of them attended the March 6 meeting. Most of the questions were asked by students who identified themselves as Concordia Student Union officers or active members of CSU associations.

Some of them chastised Lowy and Milton for not publicizing the meeting more ("I only got one fax about it," complained a student from the Concordia Women's Centre) or for not consulting every individual student instead of relying on the student media and representatives elected to decision-making bodies. "Why should we have to go to the administration?" asked one student from the floor. "Why shouldn't you come to us?"

The Rector said that it was in the nature of long-term plans that some decisions would be made by students who would soon graduate and move on. Indeed, he said, bringing the ambitious space plan to completion could take as long as 10 or 15 years, and will depend on such factors as available finances, the evolving academic planning process, the progress of the architectural design competitions and negotiations with the city.

The first architectural design competition, for the science complex at Loyola, is getting under way. The master plan is being submitted to the City of Montreal, and relations with the city's planning department are encouraging, the Rector said.

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