Those driving by the south end of campus for the first time since the pandemic started a year ago may be shocked to see the construction progress of the state-of-the-art Lancer Centre.
Typically, students, faculty, and staff would all be on campus with a first-hand view of the construction; the daily comings and goings of tractor trailers and skilled trades, along with sneak peeks of the community pool, triple-court gymnasium, and the fitness centre taking shape.
Working under the essential-service-only model, the University of Windsor project team, project manager Colliers and general contractors EllisDon, Fortis Group, construction has carried on safely and remains on time and on budget.
The $73 million Lancer Centre is set to open as originally scheduled in May 2022.
“The Lancer Centre is a bold and ambitious project that aims to be a beacon of campus and community pride for generations to come,” said Vincent Georgie, associate vice president external at the University of Windsor.
From the exterior, onlookers will see the new 119,000 square foot facility that adjoins the current 63,000 square feet of the St. Denis Centre, making the Lancer Centre the University’s largest, most visible, and most utilized facility.
Today, the walls and roof are complete with all featured amenities taking form. The next major milestone will be the completion of the eight-lane, 25-metre fully accessible community pool in June 2021.
The Lancer Centre will be the hub for health and wellness programs on campus and the new home of the University’s Convocations, where degrees are bestowed, and thousands of students participate in graduation ceremonies.
“It will host community celebrations, championships, large-scale events including science fairs, job fairs, youth and student events, wellness forums, conferences, and so much more,” said Mike Havey, director of athletics and recreational services.
“It will be the University’s largest student employer, providing financial aid along with life-long learning opportunities.”
Designing a building that is about the size of a Manhattan city block and adjoins an existing facility had its challenges, said Craig Goodman, principal architect for CS&P Architects Inc.
The site is set back from College Avenue and required an architectural detail that would provide both function and prominence, a beacon signaling to students and visitors: “this is your place.”
“The prow was designed to do just that. The extra height and depth are intentional to provide the presence needed to welcome students and visitors to the Lancer Centre day or night,” Goodman said.
The upper level will house the main mechanical systems with the double-height fitness centre located directly below. While working out, users of the fitness centre will enjoy picturesque campus views, thanks to the height and floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Lancer Centre site has a natural upward south roll which provided another challenge for the project team, he said.
The new entrance has been designed to match the height of the current facility with direct corridor access along with a seating area with an unobstructed view of the Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse.
“These design elements provide the connection needed to create the synergy of old to new,” said Goodman.
From the main entrance visitors will travel upward by stairs or ramp to Lancer Common, the social hub of the Lancer Centre, which provides entry to state-of-the-art amenities including the three-court gymnasium, a suspended three-lane recreational jogging track, community pool, multi-purpose rooms, the Alumni Lounge overlooking the gymnasium, and modern varsity team rooms.
All this would not be possible without a contribution from University of Windsor’s student body.
A $55 million commitment by the students — which to date is the largest student contribution to any Canadian university — made the Lancer Centre dream a reality.
The University of Windsor Students’ Alliance, the Graduate Student Society, and the Organization of Part-time University Students have provided a legacy that will support health and wellness for generations.
Jess Dixon, acting dean for the Faculty of Human Kinetics, noted the University has completed several transformative projects to enhance the student experience.
“The Lancer Centre goes even further by providing a modern facility to support health and wellness programs, research, and work-integrated learning opportunities for our students,” Dr. Dixon said. “This is an exciting time for the University and our community. I am proud of all that has been has accomplished during this challenging build period.”
For more information about the Lancer Centre and for the latest updates on construction progress, visit the Lancer Center website.