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Allard Hall and MacEwan’s hidden gem

by | Apr 9, 2018 | Campus | 0 comments

This past year at MacEwan University has been monumental for the institution. It has been named the Year of Celebration, and as the arts programs have moved to our downtown location, two of the university’s three campuses have finally

come together.

Sure, it was sad to lose the orange building, and many staff and students were wary of making the change. But it was necessary in order to advance student education and MacEwan’s reputation.

The new building, Allard Hall, offers new study space and learning facilities to the 19,000 students enrolled at MacEwan.

“Having other students and faculty … (come see) what we do as musicians and artists … is really heartwarming,” says Mitchell Palahniuk, a music major.

The new building also showcases MacEwan alumni and student artwork in its hallways, allowing the community to see the success and passion that is radiating through the university.

Throughout its Year of Celebration, Allard Hall played host to a number of exciting events. There was a grand opening ceremony for the building itself, as well as for the Triffo Theatre and Betty Andrews Recital Hall. The university also unveiled local artist and alumna Brenda Draney’s installation and art-walk, launched their new label, Bent River Records, and staged a production of Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information in the Black Box Theatre Lab, among many other performances. It is no secret that Allard Hall has become a great venue for many of MacEwan’s events.

“There is no other co-working space that stands alone to social innovation and making change.”

—Amor Provins

It has officially been one academic year since students started attending classes in Allard Hall. So far, the space has received rave reviews from students, staff, and the larger community. Can we all take a moment to admire the staircases? It seems to be a recurring point of pride — but maybe that’s because it reminds students of the shifting staircases at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Nonetheless, many students and community members have voiced their appreciation of the architecture, designed by Bing Thom Architects.

“The abundance of natural light and airy, open space in Allard Hall helps me feel upbeat and focused while I’m studying and hanging out,” says Marley Weisner, a professional communications student.

The new building also provides state-of-the-art technology and equipment that will help prepare students for the future.

“Allard Hall is quite the extraordinary building, with its beautiful recording studios, the gorgeous atrium, (and) architecture that Allard Hall built up a reputation for, even before the building opened,” Palahniuk adds.

With the building already gaining so much popularity, students and the community will be excited to know it is just the beginning of the facility’s promising new ventures. MacEwan’s Roundhouse project, an entrepreneurial incubator, is set to open its doors in late May, with a full launch scheduled for early June.

Amor Provins, senior manager of Roundhouse, says the incubator will be located in the southeast corner of the first floor of Allard Hall, where students, staff, entrepreneurs, and the community can connect and collaborate, allowing for more cross-disciplinary work to take place. It is a program designed to help students who have the initiative and inclination to effect social change.

This program will give students the opportunity to volunteer, join committees, purchase memberships to get access to benefits — including workshops, peer support, and consultation — and become members of various partnership opportunities. Some of these opportunities include social labs that engage the community in developing new solutions to complex social and environmental challenges, and a social innovation fellowship aimed at tackling a social challenge.

The Roundhouse will also offer a space for community members, which is something MacEwan has never done before.

Roundhouse offers four different types of memberships, which range from $40 to $700 per month. The price depends on whether you simply want access to resources, or if you want to rent an office space. Memberships can be purchased on the initiative’s website,

The Roundhouse is unique to Edmonton and “will be the first of its kind to offer a co-working space that fosters a community for change-makers,” Provins says.

“There is no other co-working space that stands alone to social innovation and making change.”

Seeing the demand for such a project, MacEwan’s Campus Services, in collaboration with the Social Innovation Institute, founded the unique idea that became Roundhouse.

What is the Social Innovation Institute? MacEwan’s own hidden gem — “something not many students know about,” says Leo Wong, founding director of the Social Innovation Institute.

The Social Innovation Institute is a program already offered at MacEwan that piloted last May. It is currently headquartered in Building 6, where a few students have already begun working on their own initiatives.

That being said, the program has “not had public exposure just yet because the Roundhouse is (still) being built,” continues Wong.

The Social Innovation Institute can offer assistance to student initiatives in a few ways, including finding sustainable funding opportunities. “We want to hear from you so we can support you,” Wong says.

Part of this support includes making connections outside of MacEwan. “Their goal is to connect the academic side of the university with the Roundhouse, who will engage with the business side of the community,” he adds.

He goes on to explain that a good portion of this engagement will depend on the needs of community members. “If they need research with a given topic, then they will look to the students to help with that,” says Wong.

Another unique advantage of the Social Innovation Institute is it will allow for students to break away from their bubbles and collaborate with students from other disciplines.

“This will create … a tested model of new teachings” for the university, Wong says.

The Social Innovation Institute also plans to organize more events and speakers on campus, in the hopes of fostering more activity and initiative.

“With the Roundhouse soon to be promoted, we can hope to see it more active in the MacEwan community,” Wong says.

With such a great running start, we are excited to see what other opportunities Allard Hall can provide for students.

Graphics supplied.

Alicia Slusarchuk

The Griff


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