Ground breaks today on Queen’s Centre
At 5 pm today, Principal Karen Hitchcock will officially break ground on the Queen’s Centre signaling the beginning of construction on Phase One of the $230-million student and athletics centre which will more than double the capacity of Queen’s current facilities.
Principal Hitchcock emcees the ceremony at Jock Harty Arena where Queen’s Bands kick off the celebration pep-squad style, with the help of cheerleaders. Prior to the ground breaking itself, the event features a procession of Queen’s athletes and members of Queen’s student clubs, and a video presentation of the completed Queen’s Centre. Student and university leaders, major donors, and the Board of Trustees will be on hand to commemorate the launch of construction of the biggest section of the complex and announce the public phase of the fundraising campaign.
“The groundbreaking for the first phase of this project is a significant milestone representing an extraordinary achievement – one that attests to the strength of our community and the unity of its vision,” says Principal Karen Hitchcock.
“This project is possible because of an historic contribution made by member of the Queen’s Alma Mater Society (AMS). Their generous investment will ensure that the university they love continues to attract the finest students, faculty and staff and offers the best possible university experience both inside and outside the classroom.”
In December 2005, Queen’s students approved a $25.5 million donation to the Queen’s Centre, the largest single donation ever made to a university by its student body. Their generosity will be recognized at the event with a gift to be presented to the AMS by Principal Hitchcock and Bill Young, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
“We are so proud to witness the groundbreaking of a project that was ushered forward by student leaders of yesterday, and will be seen to completion by student leaders of tomorrow,” says James Macmillan, AMS President. “We appreciate the value that this project will accrue to the historical legacy and reputation of Queen’s, which affects current students both now and in the future.”
The Queen’s Centre is intended to symbolize and facilitate engagement, reflection, celebration and growth – physical, mental, spiritual and emotional – supporting the university’s academic mission.
Phase One construction includes an aquatic centre, varsity gymnasium, fitness and weight centre and a new home for the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. These facilities will be operational in September 2009.
The new School of Kinesiology and Health Studies will stand on the corner of Union and Division Streets on the grounds of the current Jock Harty Arena. The aquatic centre, which will be off Earl St. toward University Ave., will include a 37.5 by 25 metre pool with seating for 150 spectators. Beside it, the varsity gym will host varsity and intramural sports with room for 2,000 spectators, so that the facility can be used for a multitude of events, including convocation. In addition to cardio-fitness equipment, weights and strength training equipment, the fitness and weight centre will also host a Wellness Centre, eight squash courts and two raquetball courts.
In December, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the $115 million in additional funding necessary for the university to move ahead with phase one of the project.
“The time is right for the Queen’s Centre,” says Andrew Simpson, vice-principal of operations and finance. “With the portion of the needed $130 million of private giving pledged to date, we’re proceeding cautiously and prudently in managing the financial aspects of the project. New expertise on staff supports the ‘construction management’ approach to the project, which will help lower construction costs.”
Phase Two, 2009-2012, will consist of an arena, fieldhouse and pedestrian mall known as The Crossroads. The Student Life Centre, a renovation and expansion of the current John Deutsch Centre, will be built during Phase Three of the project from 2012-2014.
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