By: Mike Power

The beginning of the new school year marked the much-anticipated opening of Algonquin’s newest building, the Robert C. Gillett Student Commons.

The multi-year construction project wrapped up just in time for the fall semester, with the new Student Commons playing host to a number of services for students, including the long-awaited opening of a Starbucks on campus.

Among the numerous amenities on offer in the new Student Commons are a new Welcome Centre for students, another mobile learning centre, an employment centre, a new home for the Students’ Association, an expanded technology store, a “one-stop shop” for student services and a large 700 seat auditorium.

Construction of the environmentally friendly Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Gold certified building was jointly funded by the Students’ Association and the College. The construction budget of $52 million was met on target, with $30 million coming from the Students’ Association and the remaining $22 million from the College.

Starting this year, students have a fee added to their tuition to subsidize the construction costs. The fee varies based on the number of class hours for which the student is registered. For each class hour, a $0.05 fee is added. So a program with 300 class hours per semester would result in a fee of $15 per semester in order to pay off the construction debt.

While the one-stop shopping concept for student services and the Welcome Centre may be the most important innovations in this new building, it is the new food service outlets that will undoubtedly attract the most attention.

Having a Starbucks on campus provides students with a premium alternative to cafeteria coffee. The School of Hospitality and Tourism has relocated Savoir Faire, the gourmet food service operated by the culinary program to the Student Commons. Savoir Faire’s new location is scheduled to open in E135 on Sept. 24. A new Asian-inspired food outlet called Phogo’s, operated by the SA, is scheduled to open should be open in the coming days.

The College and the SA hope for the Student Commons to be the hub of student activity on campus, and with the amenities on offer that shouldn’t be a problem.