New campus for University of Sherbrooke in Longueuil

Montreal Metro stations located near the city’s universities generally have names to reflect this fact: McGill, Guy-Concordia, and Berri-UQAM. However, Six years after being renamed, the Longueuil – Université-de-Sherbrooke metro station remained something of a misnomer – that is, until now.

Last week, the University of Sherbrooke’s Longueuil campus opened its doors to students and faculty members, providing an additional space for the campus’ 10,000 students. The completion of the $125-million project marks the first time that students on the Longueuil campus have their own space. The University of Sherbrooke spent 20 years across the street from the new edifice in a cramped office building.

“[The new building] is much more agreeable,” said Marion Zanussi, a graduate student in her first year at the university, in French.

Zanussi noted that in the previous building, Sherbrooke students had to share the space with students from other educational institutions.

“This is just for us,” she said of the new space. “We even have our own cafeteria.”

The new 16-story tower boasts an outdoor garden accessible from the second floor along with 41 classrooms, 45 meeting rooms, three study lounges, and four computer labs. Its open spaces and immense glass and steel structure create a friendly environment, but this result was secondary to more practical ends.

“Three or four years ago we knew the demand for continuing education would grow,” said Lyne Bouchard, a vice-president at the Longueuil campus. “The primary reasons [for the move] were space and cost. It is much more affordable to be in our own building.”

The University of Sherbrooke focusses mostly on continuing education studies. The Longueuil campus is no exception, and the move represents no major changes in the school’s objectives. According to Bouchard, 80 per cent of the university’s students are mostly on campus at night or on weekends.

“Our programs aren’t changing,” Bouchard said. “What’s changing – what people appreciate – is the quality of the environment. It’s one thing to teach in a hotel room. It’s another to teach in a classroom.”

The change, although still fresh, appears to be a hit. Because the students have only moved across the street, their commute is the same. It may have even become easier in some respects, suggested Zunassi, because the new building is directly connected to the bus and train station. There has even been tentative talk of building a second tower, in response not only to the growing demand for graduate studies in Montreal, but also to the project’s initial success.

This success, evident in the four-year enterprise’s timely completion within budgetary constraints, was due to the careful management of the project, led in part by Bouchard.

“We were very careful in managing the project, not only regarding the construction but also regarding the move of the employees,” said Bouchard. “We worked carefully to start teaching students right away.”

The new building will be open to the public for tours on February 13.

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