The Burns Bistro, now an empty shell, is being transformed into a new learning space for the School of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).
Located on the basement level of the Senator Burns building, the former SAIT food outlet was permanently closed on Dec. 23.
“There’s a lot of work being done,” Brad Boser, director of facilities management, said in a recent interview.
“We’ll collaborate with staff and students to minimize the impact as well as to ensure the end result delivers an improved workspace.”
That renovation is part of a larger project to finish upgrades for the Senator Burns and John Ware buildings. The project utilizes $20.7 million that SAIT received from the Government of Canada back in October.
“The impact of this funding extends beyond infrastructure,” said David Ross, president and CEO of SAIT.
“This is an investment in our students, applied education and the economy.”
The Burns Bistro space will be converted to accommodate instructional labs and a tech shop for ICT’s Information Technology Telecom Systems program and to locate more ICT students in the Senator Burns building.
Construction is expected to be complete by spring, 2018.
For many years, the space served as a cafeteria for students. At one point, it was the subject of investigation by city health inspectors for possible violations of food service regulations.
Boser said SAIT wants to ensure this new area will be optimized for the long-term success of students.
“The funding provides us with an opportunity to not only improve our workspace, but to also take a step back and look at how we configure our study and workspaces.”
SAIT is also using its funding from the Government of Canada to construct the new Green Building Technologies Lab and Demonstration Centre.
That facility is meant to provide advanced research and training opportunities.
It will include cold-climate mechanical test bays, electric vehicle charging stations and energy management, and building performance monitoring equipment.
SAIT itself is investing an additional $28.34 million to support the construction of that facility as well as the upgrades for John Ware and Senator Burns buildings.
The funding provided by the federal government is allocated through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF).
“It’s critical that we support our colleges, universities and technical training institutes,” said Marlin Schmidt, Alberta’s minister of Advanced Education.
That fund is designed to accelerate infrastructure projects at post-secondary institutions.
There’s a lot of work being done. – Brad Boser
In total, SIF has already provided $2 billion for research infrastructure at colleges, polytechnics and universities across Canada, $225 million of which has gone to Alberta.
“Good jobs begin with a good education,” Schmidt said.
“These key infrastructure investments ensure Albertans have access to state-of-the-art learning and training facilities, while addressing the need to create jobs and diversify our economy.”