North Pole gets a facelift

(Photo: Ashley Corbett)
(Photo: Ashley Corbett)

With the new year rung in and students back for the winter term, King’s has set out to fulfill one of its biggest projects of the year—renovating North Pole Bay.
The renovations, which will include a full remodel of the aesthetic and technical aspects of the bay, are necessary for the state of the building. According to facilities staff at King’s, every building that houses students has an expiration date.
For North Pole Bay, that date has come.
“This project is dealing with a huge part of the deferred maintenance at the school,” says Alex Doyle, the director of facilities at King’s.
“It’s going to eliminate a good chunk of what needs to get done on campus.”
From the basement to the top floor, everything students knew about North Pole will be different.
According to Doyle, who’s heading the project, everything from heating to electrical will be updated to run at a more efficient—and hopefully greener—level.
This, he says, is a big step for the school. North Pole houses the equipment responsible for powering itself, Cochran Bay and the A&A building.
“It’s going to be more environmentally sound and save on energy costs for the future,” says Doyle.
As for the living space inside the building, future students can expect a whole new experience from North Pole.
Nick Hatt, dean of students, says he sincerely expects the renovations to create a better place for students.
Doyle and the rest of the facilities team are focusing the improvements around the sense of community integral to the first year experience at King’s.
With this in mind, the placement of doors within each floor has become top priority.
The new concept shows eight single rooms broken into two mini quads, each with their own fire door. This will allow students to leave their individual doors open within their groupings. In their current layout, fire codes require each double room to have closed doors at all times.
Doyle says facilities are still working with the fire marshal to make the rooms as safe, open and friendly as possible.
Alex McVittie is the student representative on the committee responsible for the planning of the renovations. She says it’s clear the students are the priority during the project.
“They’ve really wanted to know what the students think because it’s going to be a better space for everyone, including day students,” says McVittie.
Since North Pole has a common room, the new plans include an improved area for all students to enjoy. This will include an open-concept space and glass doors to create an inviting feel for those who don’t live in the building.
Facilities and the registrar are hoping the renovations will help the school in a variety of ways.
“Any student, especially coming from far away, wants the place they’ll be living in their first year to be amazing,” says McVittie.
Dean Hatt agrees that residence is a huge factor for anyone making decisions regarding university. He thinks the changes to the building will only improve the university’s appeal.
While the renovations to North Pole are happening fairly quickly, in the coming years every residence building on campus will undergo similar changes.
“This is an exciting time for King’s,” says Doyle. “We’re creating the future template for residence life.”
He says that once this first job is done, facilities will have a clear plan in place for the other bays and a clear idea of the costs—something they are still unclear of with the current project.
Facilities has decided on a tight timeline. Doyle says the hope is to have the building up and running by May 1 in order to rent the new rooms for conference services in the summer.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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