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More places for students to work and play

The weather outside may be frightful — but completing group projects and visiting the gym without having to leave home is certainly delightful for students in SAIT Residence.

A new art/work studio, yoga studio and cardio room are now open in the Begin Tower and East Hall Residence, providing tenants with customized spaces to complete school work, express their artistic side and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A flexible productivity space

Drafting desks in the new art room in Begin Tower. Historically, students living in residence would utilize their living spaces, student lounges, or venture farther on or off campus to find a space to collaborate on projects or express their inner artist. In some cases, creative thinking extended to the stairwells, where blasts of spray paint can be found on the concrete walls.

"We realized the students didn't have anywhere to go do their homework and group work in an ideal environment," says Livia Kolbe, Operations Manager for SAIT's Commercial Services.

Last spring, Kolbe and her team were determined to solve this problem and gathered 20 ACAD and SAIT students living in residence to discover what they needed in a workspace studio. A planning and design team headed by Aaron Maclean, an Interior Designer/ Architectural Technologist at SAIT, took that input and built a studio in the basement of East Hall Residence.

Keeping promises

On Oct. 16, 2014, opening night of the new workspace, 65 students showed up to celebrate their exodus from the stairwells.

"One really rewarding thing for us was watching the focus group walk in," says Kolbe. "They couldn't believe that everything they had asked for was actually delivered. They were so happy. It made me feel good."

The new studio is fully equipped with drafting desks, a sink, and HVAC and mechanical systems necessary for students to safely and comfortably work on their projects.

Spaces for student wellness

Along with the studio, SAIT has also converted two student lounges in Begin Tower into a yoga studio and cardio exercise room. It's all part of a larger push to more effectively use spaces on campus that enrich the lives of students.

The cardio room in the East Tower. The room is open from 8 am to 4:30 am every day."It was all inspired by days when it's -18 C outside," says Kolbe. "We don't have a lot of large community spaces in our two residences apart from the lounges. Those places are great for studying or watching TV, but what about physical health and wellness?"

To ensure students get the most of out of these new spaces, SAIT brings in a yoga instructor twice a week for free classes. The yoga studio has a maximum capacity of 12 and the classes have been well attended. The cardio exercise room features two treadmills, one elliptical machine and a stationary bike, and the equipment has seen plenty of use from students.

"The cardio space is open from 8 am to 4:30 am, so if someone wants to work out at midnight, they can," says Kolbe.

She and her team are keeping a careful eye on how students use these new rooms. In tracking usage, they can better anticipate the needs of the students.

"We're doing a student survey right now which will tell us a lot about the big changes. And we'll continue to build off of that."

Nov. 26, 2014

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