Plans for new rez take shape

With a groundbreaking ceremony in September, the ball has been set in motion for a new international student residence. The Dr. Fok Ying Tung International House will address housing needs and also add a bit of new life to campus, while minimizing environmental impact as much as possible.

This is the vision of international house lead architect Barry Sampson, of the Toronto firm Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, and University of Calgary Residence Services director Joel Lynn.

According to Lynn, the top and main floors will be reserved for apartments to house recently hired staff.

“The top floor is more of an apartment-style housing to aid in the transition of faculty to the city who have trouble finding housing, and they will be charged market rates,” said Lynn, noting the apartments will generate revenue for the university.

The main floor will be designed to bring life to the building. There will be a cafe and lounge, a convenience store, as well as a central desk and offices where Residence Services will relocate.

In addition to the permanent housing facilities, two floors will be dedicated to visiting faculty members.

“There is a more hotel-style level for visiting staff from other universities,” said Lynn, noting these floors will house 50-70 people.

Two levels of the building will be devoted to two-bedroom apartments, including full private bath facilities and a communal kitchen area on each floor.

“The building will create about 100 new beds for international students,” said Lynn.

The combined housing for students and faculty is also meant to encourage the notion that the two are not separate entities, but rather colleagues in the pursuit of academic excellence.

According to Sampson, any university expansion, including the international house, must be functional, but also improve the overall design of campus.

“It’s a problem of facilities,” said Sampson. “Each new project can facilitate, while improving urban design.”

Logistics will also be considered when building the international house.

“Program distribution makes the route more active,” said Sampson, noting features like the cafe and store will likely attract more visitors to the area. “This is a fundamental principle of campus planning and urban design.”

To help minimize the environmental impact of the building, the international house will be built in compliance with the platinum standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, which is the highest standard of environmental design.

LEED rankings take environmental factors into account, including site sustainability, erosion, sedimentation control and transit access, while minimizing automobiles, energy use, greenhouse gases and water use. LEED architects also use rapidly renewable building materials whenever possible.

“We’re trying to eliminate sick building syndrome, buildings from the ’60s and ’70s, where sealed buildings required mechanical ventilation,” said Sampson. “As mechanical systems degrade, the environment [in the building] degrades.”

The main floor of the building will feature an aesthetically pleasing fountain that will also be part of its cooling system.

“As the U of C expands, it needs to expand its central cooling systems, and part of that is the use of water for cooling,” said Sampson, noting a system of ponds will circulate water through building pipes to absorb heat and cool the water before returning it to the river.

The Dr. Fok Ying Tung Inter-national House will be built in what is currently parking lot 3, west of the Rozsa Centre. It is scheduled to open in 2008.

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