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Project leaders share CEI's finest features on guided tour

The only thing limiting the possibilities of the industrial courtyard is the imagination of the people working there, according to one of the project’s managers.

“It’s a very new type of space and a new idea and I think it’s going to develop a lot as time goes on,” said Mark Beaulieu, owner of JP Thomson Architects Ltd., the architectural and engineering firm hired by the university to oversee the construction of its new Centre for Engineering Innovation. “It’s meant to generate ideas. This is the place to help get them started.”

Along with Matt Soulliere, project manager for PCR Contractors, Beaulieu took a handful of members from the local media on a guided tour of the CEI’s second phase Wednesday. Currently under construction and scheduled to open in the fall of 2012, that portion of the building will include lecture halls, faculty and administrative offices, students meeting spaces, a green roof and an industrial courtyard.

One of the signature features of the building, that space will be a place where industrial partners can temporarily set up shop to work with student and faculty researchers to develop new business ideas or work on solutions to engineering challenges they’re facing.

“They’ll be able to draw on the resources of researchers specific to whatever kind of commercial activity they’re engaged in,” Beaulieu said.

The building’s first phase, which consists primarily of research space, opened in June. Through the summer, researchers set up their labs to welcome their students back in September. Last Friday, about 700 people attended an open house there to get a first-hand look at the space.

Soulliere, whose firm is leading the construction, said building on the second phase is progressing smoothly and on schedule. To date, about 13,055 cubic metres of concrete have been poured, almost half of the precast panels have been erected, and about 59,600 person hours of work have gone into the building.

Wednesday’s tour also gave Soulliere and Beaulieu a chance to show off what they call “the egg,” a large, oval-shaped lecture hall that will be divided down the middle to provide seating for 125 students on each side. Members of the media also got a glimpse of the main lecture hall, which will seat 350 students, and the 10,300 square foot green roof, which will include aesthetically-pleasing meeting spaces and slow-growing, low-maintenance vegetation to help absorb rain water that would otherwise flow into storm sewers.

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