On February 16 and 18, McGill solicited student feedback on renovations to the Brown Student Services building. At the informational session on February 18, the lobby of the building was turned into a space where students and staff could come in and offer feedback on ideas for redesigning the building.
Dubbed “Operation Brown Building,” the initiative began this semester as a collaboration between students in ARCH 514: Community Design Workshop, the Brown Building Redesign Advisory Group (BBRAG), and the McGill Spaces Project (MSP). Operation Brown Building is intended to make the building a less confusing and more student-friendly space.
“The Brown building was initially planned as a transit space from Doctor Penfield to McTavish as well as […] a conduit to connect to SSMU. But, these [connecting] doors look like fire exits, they don’t look very approachable,” MSP Director and U3 Sustainability student Alan Chen told The Daily.
“Institutional memory has been lost over generations in the sense that people who are using the Brown Building right now don’t know that the space was initially planned to be used as a conduit,” he continued.
These information sessions were the beginning of a consultative process that will be continued through similar events in March.
“Right now, we are just introducing people to the idea, and then [during] reading week we will have workshops, actually have people sit down, and we’ll show them options and they’ll pick,” Ila D’cruz, a Masters student studying Urban Design, explained to The Daily.
“Once that’s done, by the end of the semester, we will come up with design proposals, and they’re actually going to do it in summer,” she said. According to D’cruz, the funds for the project have already been set aside by McGill.
Chen emphasized that community input was key to the project.
“We not only would appreciate, but would welcome and encourage community members to come and leave their ideas and opinions.”
Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) student Catherine Weatherall agreed that the Brown building could use improvement. “Every time I do come in here, it’s not the most inviting building, – you walk in and you don’t know where to go, and to be honest, I really don’t spend a lot of time here,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like our building, like a students’ building.”