Asset Management Update: Alumni House

By Andrew Sharman

By Andrew Sharman

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In June 2019, the University of Alberta Board of Governors approved an Integrated Asset Management Strategy on the recommendation of the General Faculties Council. The strategy takes a big-picture look at the university's buildings and other infrastructure as a whole. It maps out how we use our physical assets to support teaching, learning and research now and into the future. Our goal is to maximize the use of good space, minimize the potential for critical failures that would affect our university's core mission, and bend the curve on our deferred maintenance burden.

At yesterday's campus forum, President Turpin announced the upcoming removal of Alumni House, the first of a number of buildings we have been reviewing under the asset management strategy, and Facilities Development Committee received an update on this at their last meeting. Many factors have led to the difficult decision to demolish Alumni House in early November, including chronic maintenance issues.

Alumni House was closed last spring after it suffered major damage from burst water pipes following a cold winter. Built as a single family home in 1959, Alumni House served as a conference and meeting space, but offered very limited space and poor accessibility. The house has suffered maintenance issues for a number of years. It does not have barrier-free access or meet modern day safety codes. By March of 2019 it became clear that Alumni House would be too costly to renew, maintain or operate, without significant investment.

With Alumni Council, we are exploring ways to recognize Alumni House's history. In the spring, we will landscape the site so that it can serve as greenspace on campus for the time being. Future plans for this area will be guided by our Long Range Development Plan, sector plans and university community engagements.

You may also be wondering about the impact of the reduced Infrastructure Maintenance Program funding on our campuses. As President Turpin acknowledged yesterday, we have cancelled deferred maintenance contracts where possible to help cut costs. At the same time, we need to maintain our campuses and other projects continue to move forward, including Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre and the Lister tower renewals. These projects are critical to preserving our teaching and research mission at the U of A and assist in reducing our deferred maintenance liability.

As I have mentioned, the university's integrated asset management strategy, Taking Care of our Campuses will guide decisions about the future of our infrastructure, while supporting our core mission of teaching and research. I will continue to keep you informed as we learn more about changes to the infrastructure maintenance program and make decisions in alignment with our long-term asset management strategy.

Andrew Sharman
Vice-president (Facilities & Operations)