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‘Place we can call our own’

Business building renos support accessibility and learning

Student Life

By Susan White

This fall business students are returning to renovated spaces that offer comfort and wheelchair accessibility.

Festus Ajayi sits with one arm resting on a table. Blue lockers and chairs are in the background.
PhD candidate Festus Ajayi in the newly renovated PhD student lounge, which he says is “presentable and more comfortable.”
Photo: Karen Roche

A number of spaces in the building, including a classroom, study room and PhD student lounge, were renovated while most faculty, staff and students were working remotely.

The spaces are freshly painted and have new carpet, whiteboards and comfortable seating.

The PhD lounge also features lockers, meeting tables, office equipment and a kitchenette.

The work was completed in partnership with the minor capital projects team at Facilities Management.

Student-focused design

Festus Ajayi, a PhD candidate in organizational behaviour and human resources management, says the new lounge is a vast improvement.

“Looking at the new space, I think it was designed with PhD students in mind,” he said. “It gives us a sense of place we can call our own.”

Before the renovations, doctoral students used the staff and faculty dining lounge on the fourth floor of the Business building. They also have a room with individual cubicles for work and study.

Mr. Ajayi says having a dedicated space allows him to meet with students in a comfortable setting. He also uses it for his research.

“I’m in the building five or six days each week, and I use the new lounge a lot. For instance, when I was interviewing participants for the first study of my thesis, I used the new lounge. It felt presentable and more comfortable.”

Addressing an accessibility gap

The renovations have also helped to address an infrastructure gap for students who use wheelchairs.

While the Business building has several dedicated study rooms, the newly created Ramea Room is the only one that is wheelchair accessible.

It has two entrances, one of which is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and has push button access. The room is spacious, and a whiteboard extends to within 1.5 feet of the floor.

The Ramea Room has geometric designs on the wall. There are couches in one corner and a table with moveable chairs in another.
The Ramea Room is a wheelchair accessible study room in the Business building.
Photo: Karen Roche

A generous donation by a commerce alumnus, who wishes to remain anonymous, funded the Ramea Room renovations.

“We didn’t have an accessible study room in our building, and we recognized that presented a significant challenge to some of our students,” said Dr. Peggy Coady, a business faculty member who helped facilitate the donation.

The donor chose the name “Ramea” for the room.

A canvas print of the community adorns one of the walls in the study room along with a message from the donor that states, “Your duty is to give back to both the community and the university.”

“We want our learning spaces to support creativity and innovation …. To do that, our spaces need to be as up-to-date as our curricula.” — Dr. Peggy Coady

“It’s important that our building meets the diverse needs of our students,” said Dr. Coady. “We want our learning spaces to support creativity and innovation in our students. To do that, our spaces need to be as up-to-date as our curricula.”

Future building plans include expanding the PhD lounge, increasing the number of accessible washrooms and renovating the space for the Centre for Social Enterprise.


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