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10 Nov
The walls come down on Owasina

The walls come down on Owasina

Owasina Hall, SAIT Polytechnic's first residential building, is being demolished.

Tarps will soon be installed around the upper floors of the 22-story building, which will be dismantled starting from the top, with rubble sent down elevator shafts.

The approach may not be as cinematic as an implosion, but Dave Sommerfeld, Project Superintendent, says it's the best process for the job.

"This method of demolition is much safer for the public and for the people doing the work," says Sommerfeld.

The brick-by-brick tear-down of all 1.5 million square feet will not pose any safety risks to those on or around campus and it allows bricks from Owasina to be repurposed for the portal running through SAIT's Thomas Riley building. Most other materials from the hall will also find new life through recycling.

Owasina has been a SAIT landmark for 43 years, though it hasn't functioned as a residence since closing in 2006.

In recent years the building has served as a frequent tactical training ground for Calgary Police Services-with its significant height offering an excellent location for rappelling drills.

One era ends, another begins

Saying goodbye to Owasina opens the doors for a new residence planned for the space currently occupied by a nearby parking lot. Boris Dragicevic, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management, says the new hall will give the institute some room for further growth.

"We've hit nearly 16,000 students. There's a 10% demand on campus housing, so to serve 20,000 we need to have 800 new beds," says Dragicevic. "The new residence will give us that and create vitality and an even stronger sense of community on campus."

An RFP for the design and build of the new residence facility will go out by the end of the year, and that will help establish a completion date for the project.

Two new parking solutions are also in the works. A surface lot will take the place of Owasina Hall and a new parking garage will be built on what is currently a large surface lot on the south west corner of campus. The new garage will add 500 stalls to campus and help accommodate students living in the new residence hall.

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