Evolution of the Pit

While Grant Hall is still the tallest building on campus, it has lost its status as the University’s most notable edifice. Two years ago, Queen’s launched a $230 million construction project that has transformed the university’s look and feel. Phase I of the Queen’s Centre meant the levelling of university buildings and Ghetto streets, the rerouting of service pipes, walking paths and the displacement of sports teams. Here’s a look at the steps it took to get from there to here.

The Execution of Earl Street – fall 2006

The project began in the fall of 2006 with the razing of one square block of the student Ghetto. The University bought up the houses (including the old Journal House) on Earl and Clergy streets from University to Division and demolished them.

The Death of Jock Harty (again) – fall/winter/spring 2007-07

The University faced one its most significant logistical challenges to date with the loss of the arena and the home of the varsity hockey and skating teams. The three teams will practice and compete primarily out of the Memorial Centre until the completion of the new arena, scheduled for [month year]. The last game ever played in the third incarnation of the Jock Harty Arena was on March 4, 2007. The women won 3-1 against the Waterloo Warriors.

The Dynamite – summer 2007

The sounds of last summer were frequently drowned out by the sound of cracking limestone. Many a summer student’s sleep was interrupted by the detonation of the dynamite used to dig the lower levels of what will become the new physical education centre. Warning whistles pierced the air as many as a handful of times per day and explosions shook buildings all over campus.

The Cranes – fall 2007 to present

The Queen’s skyline changed again in November of last year with the addition of three large-scale construction cranes to the centre of the construction site. Huge steel beams flying through the air became a common sight on the way to class and students in the area had an extra nightlight.

Move On Up part 1 – spring 2008

Right around the time the snow started melting last year, the Queen’s Centre began to grow out of the Earl St. pit. Dump trucks started giving way to colourful support columns and concrete floor and ceiling slabs, dramatically improving the stroll down Earl St.

Move On Up part 2 – summer 2008

When the summer months hit and the Ghetto population shrunk, building got going in earnest. The soon-to-be floors of the Queen’s Centre are now well above street level giving tangible shape to the building’s first phase space.

What to expect over the course of the year

Phase 1 of construction is scheduled to be finished in the fall of ’09 and for that to happen, there is going to be a lot of work done this year. Walls will be built, windows will go in and the construction site will become a full-fledged building.

The end? - What to expect over the next four years and beyond

After Phase 1 is completed, there are another five years of construction and demolition necessary for the entire project to be completed. The PEC will come down and the JDUC will be completely revamped. Phase 2 is scheduled to be finished by the spring of 2012 and Phase 3 in the fall of 2014.

With Phase 1 scheduled to be completed next year, as the class of 2012, you will actually get to make use of the Queen’s Centre. Rather than witnessing the destruction of beloved buildings, you will have the opportunity to see the new future of Queen’s campus take shape, though hopefully with fewer explosions.

Phase 1

• The new Aquatic Centre will be about 80 per cent larger than the existing pool and will have seating for 150 spectators.

• The new Barlett Gym will feature retractable seating for 2,000 spectators, which, when not in place will leave room for two full-sized practice courts for simultaneous use.

• The new fitness and weight centre will be twice the size of the PEC facilities. There will be international regulation sized squash courts and two raquetball courts which will be glass-backed.

• The School of kinesiology and health studies will feature two large lecture theatres, enhanced labs and break out rooms approximately 7,000 square-feet.

Phase 2

• The arena will feature seating for 2,000 and , because it will be two levels below ground, The Olympic-sized ice surface will be visually accessible from two pedestrian streets as well as the ajacent Queen’s Pub.

• With a six-lane, 200-metre running track–including an eight-lane straightaway for sprinters–the fieldhouse facility will be able to host OUA and CIS track meets.

• A pedestrian mall will run both east-west (from University Ave. to Division St.) and north-south (from Union St. to Earl St.) through the Centre. The “streets” will intersect at the centre of the building.

Phase 3

• The JDUC will be revamped and expanded to serve as the new hub of student life on campus. New eateries, including a brand new Alfie’s, restaurant and cafeteria, and flat-floor performance space (with standing room for 600 or space for 350 seats) are constructed. It will be located where the current JDUC sits, at the corner of Union St. and University Ave.

Compiled by Erin Flegg and Angela Hickman

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