October 5 was a grand day – the official grand re-opening of the newly renovated College Building at the College Avenue campus. The early Collegiate Gothic style building had been deteriorating after 100 years of use, but now, thanks to a $63.6 million restoration project, the historic College Building will continue to provide a place of higher learning for generations to come.

The College Avenue Campus Renewal Project has a special place in Margaret Anne Hodges’ heart, as the campus has touched the lives of four generations of her family.

Her grandmother, Anne Owen “Nancy” Goodfellow, took voice and piano lessons at the Conservatory and performed as an original member of the Elizabethan Singers in Darke Hall. Her mother, Alice Goodfellow BA’43, also pursued piano lessons and performed on campus, and later took classes through the Seniors’ Education Centre (now the Lifelong Learning Centre) after retiring from her career as a pediatrician. In her later years, Alice became increasingly concerned with the deterioration of the College Avenue Campus.

Hodges joined about 150 others for the official re-opening of the newly renovated space on October 5.

Hodges jokes that she is the “only person in her family to have never taken a class at the Conservatory,” but notes that Darke Hall was instrumental in her meeting her husband, Ed Willett (who did take classes at the Conservatory), as they both sang with Regina Lyric Musical Theatre in the venue.

Together, Hodges and Willett continue the long-time family commitment to supporting the arts in Regina and the College Avenue Campus. The family donated toward the Campus Renewal Project, and a classroom in the College Building bears the name of Dr. Alice Goodfellow Hodges. Hodges and Willett’s daughter, also named Alice, performs in music festivals and dances on stage with the Do It With Class theatre company, making her the fourth generation to benefit from programming at the campus.

Hodges and her family believe that education is the key to success and that music is part of a basic education. “Arts and intellectual pursuits go together. Science and art are similar – they build brain patterns and structures and help individuals to develop discipline and skill sets,” she says.

Margaret Anne Hodges and daughter Alice Willett
Margaret Anne Hodges (left) and daughter Alice Willett pose in the revitalized College Building in a classroom named for Hodges’ mother, Dr. Alice Goodfellow Hodges. (Photo by Rae Graham)

The next phase of the revitalization of the College Avenue Campus includes the completion of a new Conexus Credit Union head office and an atrium that provides accessible access to a refurbished Darke Hall.

(Artist rendering courtesy of P3Architecture Partnership)

The Hodges' beloved College Avenue Campus is also home to the University’s Centre for Continuing Education, including the Lifelong Learning Centre and the Conservatory of Performing Arts. It is also the location of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS), one of Canada’s leading policy schools.

Located on the third floor, the JSGS space is large enough to house all faculty and staff, as well as over 4,600 square feet of classroom, meeting and breakout space, and an open-concept lounge space dedicated to JSGS students.

October 5, 2018 ribbon cutting at College Avenue Campus
Ribbon cutting ceremony at the October 5 grand re-opening of the College Building (left to right) Dr. Thomas Chase, Provost and Vice-President (Academic); The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor; Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Minister of Advanced Education; His Worship Michael Fougere, Mayor, City of Regina. (Photo by Rae Graham)

Classrooms have been fitted with video conferencing technologies, and the new, modern features serve to enhance teaching and learning. Not to mention, the new atrium provides street-level access to the College Building and elevator access to all floors. Having all aspects of the school under one roof creates greater opportunities for collaboration and conversation between students and faculty.

“There's no better place to learn from Saskatchewan's leading public service and administration experts than at the JSGS in the newly renovated historic College Avenue Campus,” says Master of Public Administration student Jocelyn Crivea. “It is a fabulous space that overlooks Wascana Lake and the Legislative Building. I can't think of a nicer space in the city.”

Doug Moen, interim executive director of Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy one of Canada’s leading policy schools. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)
Doug Moen, interim executive director of Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy one of Canada’s leading policy schools. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

With the Saskatchewan Legislative Building just across the water, interim Executive Director Doug Moen recognizes the move to College Avenue as a great opportunity for the JSGS to develop greater connections with the Government of Saskatchewan.

“Our relocation to the College Avenue Campus is already proving to be an excellent asset for our graduate students who visualize a career in public service,” says Moen. “It also has expanded the opportunity for teaching and learning within the public sector, providing space for public servants to take advantage of the school’s executive education programs.”

The move also allows for the establishment of the Centre for the Study of Science and Innovation Policy (CSIP), an initiative that also helped secure crucial funding from the Government of Canada’s Strategic Investment Fund.

“We’re going to see new vibrant uses in these buildings, and we’re going to also see activity back on the site that we haven’t seen because the buildings could not be used to their full potential.”

“With the new space on our Regina campus, we are looking forward to expanding the Centre’s research and outreach in Saskatchewan’s capital,” says Peter Phillips, the Centre’s director and research lead on bioscience and food policy.

“This development will be a great opportunity to better connect with students and faculty in Regina to continue the facilitation of CSIP’s significant research endeavours."

Just a few years ago, the condition of the College Avenue Campus, which each year welcomes more than 8,000 learners and hosts dozens of community and cultural events, was a growing concern to members of the University community. After more than 100 years of use, the historic buildings were deteriorating. The heating system was unreliable – a problem in -30 degree weather – and there was a lack of air conditioning – a problem in +30 degree weather.

Harvey King, director of the Continuing Education Centre, tells a heartbreaking story of a father who was unable to go to any of his daughter’s recitals because of the lack of wheelchair access. With the College Avenue Campus Renewal Project, all of that has changed. The entrances are at ground level with ramps, and an elevator eliminates the need to climb the steep and seemingly endless staircases.

King's own daughter took classes in the fifth floor of the tower when she was three years old. “She doesn’t remember anything about the classes, but she still remembers the stairs,” King laughs.

Other issues addressed by the renewal project included the addition of sprinkler systems, air conditioning and energy efficiency upgrades, as well as bringing emergency exits up to code.

Announced in 2011, the $63.6 million College Avenue Campus Renewal Project involved the renovation of the College Building, Tower and Conservatory façade, and construction of new additions at the east and west ends of the College Building.

Harvey King, director of the Continuing Education Centre. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)
Harvey King, director of the Continuing Education Centre. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

Funding for the project included: a $28.7 million contribution from the Government of Canada’s Strategic Investment Fund (SIF); a donation of 2.6 acres of land from the City of Regina; and approximately $25 million in private and in-kind donations, including a unique $8.25 million partnership with Conexus Credit Union.

Artist rendering of the Conexus atrium that will solve accessibility issues to a refurbished Darke Hall. (Artist rendering courtesy of P3Architecture Partnership)
Artist rendering of the Conexus atrium that will solve accessibility issues to a refurbished Darke Hall. (Artist rendering courtesy of P3Architecture Partnership)

“Conexus Credit Union has been a great partner,” says University of Regina President Vianne Timmons. “They are not a usual business – they’re a customer-owned, Saskatchewan-based co-operative. They have always been a supporter of arts and education in the province – the Conexus Arts Centre is a great example. They also have programs to provide financial planning and support to seniors. This project would have been impossible without their funding,” she adds.

The renovated College Building was ready in time for the start of classes in September. The restoration preserved numerous heritage elements, while upgrading the institution into a modern teaching facility. The four-storey Conservatory façade remains, and 16,000 bricks were repurposed, primarily on the west side of the Tower.

“Conexus Credit Union has been a great partner,” says University of Regina President Vianne Timmons.

All exterior steel windows, including hardware and hinges, were reused. Interior and exterior windows were repaired or refurbished, including interior wood sashes and new double-pane glass for energy efficiency. The upgrades include smart classrooms that are modern, safe and accessible, and wired for video conferencing, computers, data projection and audio. The campus is the perfect blend of old and new.

Carol Reyda, project manager for construction at the University oversaw the project on behalf of the University of Regina.

(Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

Carol Reyda, project manager for construction at the University, notes that the design for the additions to the College Building referenced the University of Regina's master plan from more than a century ago. The College Avenue Campus heritage buildings are early and exceptional examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture. “The goal for the new construction was not to recreate the heritage buildings, but to create a backdrop so they can really shine,” she says.

Plans for landscaping around the building were also taken from the original master plans. The campus was meant to have buildings on four sides and a courtyard inside. The drop-off loop at the back of the building is reminiscent of this courtyard feel. The new entrance to the front of the College Building is in the Tower, which was in the master plan but was filled with bricks instead. By opening up the archway and adding glass, you can see through the building to the lake on the other side.

“It’s reverting to those original plans of the building, where you enter the space and connect with Wascana Park,” Reyda says.

Donald Luxton, the of head of Donald Luxton and Associates, Western Canada’s foremost cultural and historical management company and the consultant working on the University’s College Avenue Campus Renewal Project, says the College Avenue Campus is one of the more historically significant sites in Western Canada.

“Many people have amazing connections to the campus. Sites like this really tell us about early Regina residents who lived here before we did, and they tell us about the potential for the future. It gives us some deeper meaning in our cities. I think these are all things that are crucial about maintaining historic landmarks.”

Donald Luxton, the head of Donald Luxton and Associates, Western Canada’s foremost cultural and historical management company and the consultant working on the University’s College Avenue Campus Renewal Project. Shown here inside Darke Hall. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)
Donald Luxton, the head of Donald Luxton and Associates, Western Canada’s foremost cultural and historical management company and the consultant working on the University’s College Avenue Campus Renewal Project. Shown here inside Darke Hall. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

President Timmons emphasizes the importance the donor community played in realizing the project. “Donors and the community were essential to the project’s success,” she says. “Because they are passionate about the College Avenue Campus, it inspired the project team to create something worthy of their interest. Without the donors and the community involvement, this project wouldn’t have happened. It’s a community building, and the University knows that, appreciates that and values that.”

The most rewarding aspect of the project for Reyda was when she poked her head into a classroom at the end of one of the first days of classes and asked an instructor what she thought of the space. “She raved about the acoustics and how nice and bright the rooms are. One staff member pulled me aside and said, ‘I feel like I’m coming to a palace every time I come to work.’ It’s rewarding when the users appreciate it and feel it’s a good functioning and inspiring building.”

“I'm proud to see a major federal program like the Strategic Investment Fund supporting the revitalization of the College Avenue campus,” says Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale BA’71, who was on hand for the official re-opening in early October. “State of the art construction techniques are preserving a heritage building and transforming it into an innovative space for the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, continuing education for adults and the new Centre for the Study of Science and Innovation Policy – all in all a very valuable investment.”

Although she regrets that her mother passed away before seeing the College Building renewed, Margaret Anne Hodges is excited to see the space revitalized.

“Having an inspiring building that is set for the 21st century helps to ground students and support them into the future. It shows students that we care – we support you in your learning endeavours and believe in you,” she says.

“This is a wonderful day for the University of Regina."

“This is a wonderful day for the University of Regina,” remarked President Timmons at the re-opening. “The beautiful, historic College Building is a legacy that was left for us by forward-thinking members of our community more than a century ago. Revitalizing it over the past few years to make it a modern, accessible place of learning in the heart of Regina was once again a community endeavour, and we owe a great debt of thanks to the many dedicated individuals and organizations who provided the necessary support.”

About the Author

Sabrina Cataldo is an award-winning writer and communications strategist in Regina.

Photos by University of Regina Photography Department. Artist renderings courtesy of P3Architecture Partnership.