Students living in Post House and Wilkes House are woken up at seven o’clock every morning to the sounds of machinery and workers, as the new Brantford Research and Academic Centre (BRAC) building rises higher and higher out of the once-infamous empty hole.

There have been many changes at Laurier over the past year and many more coming, the most noticeable of which has been the great mass of steel and concrete going up in between Post House and Wilkes House Residences.

There has been some mystery about this new building, but misconceptions are finally being cleared up. There are two different sections to this building: BRAC West and BRAC East. BRAC West is the one currently being constructed and is expected to be finished by September 2010. BRAC East is projected to be completed by March 2011.

The west wing will contain one large classroom, several medium-sized classrooms, a student lounge, a Williams Express, offices, and wet and dry research labs. Also moving into the building later in the term will be the university bookstore.

There will be several quirks to this building that will make it different from that of other campus buildings. The BRAC West building will contain a “living wall” – a wall with plant life actually growing on it. The idea is to increase the levels of oxygen throughout the building and improve air quality.

The BRAC East building will contain a round room for Indigenous Studies and, interestingly enough, a gender neutral washroom.

“We are really looking at making campus diversity a priority on campus and promoting the concept of respect and diversity across campus,” says Ross Fraser, Student Affairs coordinator, “and the gender neutral washrooms should help with that.”

As for students next year, it is still too early to tell how many first-years the campus will see. But Bruce Arai, dean of Laurier Brantford, expects to see about 2,500 students on campus next semester, with an increase in college transfer students and international students.

The Digital Display project is well underway, and students should expect to see display screens on campus by September. Instead of bulletin boards, there will be between seven and eight digital screens strategically placed in buildings throughout the campus, displaying different announcements and events.
Construction has also started on the CIBC Building on Market Street. This building will contain mostly faculty offices, and is expected to be ready by September.

There are also several other potential changes in the works, still too up in the air to mention. But one thing is for sure: Laurier Brantford will be a changed campus come September.