The following memo was issued on Friday, April 11 from Alan Simms, Interim Vice-President, Administration and Finance at OCAD University:
Issues around facilities and maintenance at OCAD University have been in the news recently. I would like to take this opportunity to update on these issues and some exciting space-related projects that we aim to advance by the time we begin the new academic term in September 2014.
OCAD University owns commercial units within a condominium at what we call the Annex Building of our university: four floors at 113 McCaul. While the university maintains washrooms on those floors within its own space, there are also common-area washrooms on the floors that have fallen into disrepair that we do not own. The university has been in protracted discussions with the condominium board about doing the needed work in these common-area washrooms on floors 2 to 5 which were closed this winter because of their conditions. The university’s Facilities staff has worked hard with the condominium corporation to secure a plan for restoration of these washrooms. Renovations have begun and we have been advised that the work will be completed later this spring.
The intumescent paint application on the southwest black leg of the Sharp Centre, built in 2004, failed after 10 years over this harsh winter. Experts we have consulted are still unsure of the reason, but remediation work has been held up as we explore warranty and insurance coverage for the issue and ensure the other legs are not experiencing similar paint adhesion problems. Naturally, we are keen that the necessary scraping and re-painting be accomplished in the warmer months over the summer. We are reviewing the possibility of reducing the size of the area of Butterfield Park, beneath the “tabletop” of the Sharp Centre, that currently is cordoned off as a safety precaution against injury from falling paint segments.
We are also actively developing plans for re-purposing several university-owned properties. An architect consultant will be retained within the next month to help design a repurposed115 McCaul St. – at the corner of Dundas and McCaul streets – as a student-focused space, the Experiential Learning Centre, with the intention also to re-skin the facility to raise our profile at this prominent intersection. The consultant will spearhead an integrated planning approach to the project and aim for an aggressively targeted completion of September 2015.
Repurposing 115 McCaul means that we need to find a new home for the staff who currently work in that building and the university is considering plans for relocation of many of the 115 functions to buildings the university owns at 230/240 Richmond St. W. A major tenant is vacating this facility in December 2014, and we are also assessing how other chronic space needs might be resolved by absorbing some of the vacated space in this facility.
We are in the early stages of considering new best and appropriate uses for 51 McCaul, the streetcar building, mid-block, that currently houses many of our student services. This use for the building has never been ideal, given that the noise level from the streetcar turnaround negatively affects everything from counseling appointments to students with disabilities who use space here to write examinations, purportedly in a setting where it’s easier to concentrate. One option being reviewed is the possibility of relocating our current computer store in 317c 100 McCaul to part of the main floor street level of 51 McCaul and growing it into a new bookstore for the university that could also be a venue possibly for selling student art and design work.
Beyond improving our space and use of space, these particular projects share a common theme: the strengthening of OCAD University’s presence along the McCaul/Duncan spine. A new committee on creative place-making will be formalized soon that will begin solicit ideas for creative, quality-of-life interventions along this spine. To start this conversation, the Student Gallery will be calling for submissions to undertake an exciting mural painting program over the summer using the Brinks Building at 60 McCaul as the canvas. This building is currently on loan to OCAD University by developers Tridel and Osmington and is used to provide studio space for our senior students. The building and the one south of it at 52 McCaul, also on loan to OCAD University, are slated to be demolished in 2015 to make room for an upcoming condominium development.
This is only a short list of what is keeping us busy. We hope to make further announcements on progress about these and other maintenance and space-related initiatives over the summer and certainly as classes resume in September.