NAIT Students’ Association Office Expansion

Since NAITSA formed in 1965, it has always been located in E-131 on the NAIT campus. As the organization has grown and evolved over the last 54 years, so too have the space needs of the office and staff. In the 1990’s, as preparation for the next 50 years, NAITSA started setting aside funds to build a new structure to house its offices, however the growth of the organization meant that a more immediate upgrade would be needed.

Following instruction from the NAITSA Executive Council and the NAITSA Senate, a referendum for NAIT students was held in February 2016 to decide if NAITSA would use the building fund for a new expanded space and to make a donation to NAIT totalling $5 million over six years. NAIT Students voted overwhelming in favor of the referendum with 91% voting yes. Planning and design of the new space took place over two years and construction began on (month/year). You can see the outline details of the Donation Agreement.

Biggest considerations NAITSA’s new space:

Expansion
For several years, NAITSA was working in close quarters without the space it needed to properly operate, and it did not have the capacity to add or expand services to students.

The Campus Activities Board (CAB) is NAITSA’s ‘on-the-ground’ team of students who deliver so many of the great events throughout the year. The now 14-member team did not have any place to work in the previous space.

Centralization
The new larger space allowed NAITSA to bring all of its services together in one centralized location, instead of the previously separate offices spread throughout E-wing in 3 different locations.

The new NAITSA Lobby provides students with a ‘one-stop’ experience no matter what they are looking for. Everything is now available in one place.

The new location is more geographically centric in relation to the overall main campus. This allows NAITSA to be closer and more visible to the students it serves.

Modernization
Previously, NAITSA had multiple small single-person offices doubled up with two to four people occupying them. This presented ergonomic and productivity challenges for staff.

Modern architectural design processes presented opportunities to bring some simple innovations into the office environment. The “right to light” concept was not something that existed when O-wing was built in 1963, but with some very innovative design almost the entire space now has access to natural light.

NAITSA is a highly collaborative environment that doesn’t align well with the older ‘put-everyone-in-their-own-box-with-a-desk-and-a-door’ office design. The new space promotes collaborative work, uses space more efficiently, and allows for growth over the long-term.

Sustainability
NAITSA spent a long time planning for expansion, devoting a percentage of fees to a restricted Building Fund since at least the 90’s. Perhaps someday an entire building will be appropriate, but for now NAITSA believes it can deliver excellent value to students out of the upgraded O108/O102 space while continuing to save for the future.

NAITSA expects to be in O108/O102 for a while (10 to 20 years or more), so the design needed to have space flexibility, lots of room for growth, and the ability to adapt to new technologies and innovations in student life. Durable materials were chosen in the design process so that the space lasts for as long as NAITSA occupies it.

How will the new space allow NAITSA to better serve students?

NAITSA’s new space has exciting new student-facing design features:

NAITSA has expanded its lobby footprint to accommodate the ever-increasing student traffic visiting the office, and it now offers a barrier-free counter area for student access as well as inviting and comfortable seating areas that students can use and enjoy.

Three non-bookable student advising rooms where students can work, collaborate, and discuss services and issues with NAITSA staff.

Student CAB members will now have a space to work out of and the office will be a headquarters for NAITSA event planning and execution.

The Clubs department now has a ‘staging area’ that makes it more convenient for busy student club leaders to pick up and return borrowed equipment.

The new CAB office gives the events department more logistical flexibility in delivering events in the later hours of the day and evening. It’s also more visible and accessible to students who might be interested in getting involved.

The new Nugget student media office was designed to encourage student engagement by welcoming contributors with an accessible and inviting space.

The Clubs department is now prominently accessible from inside the NAITSA office’s main lobby. This department serves over 90 active clubs on campus and counting.

NAITSA’s Executive Council (EC) are the official representatives of the students. Their sole purpose is to work on behalf of NAIT students, and that responsibility requires a lot of teamwork. Their offices are now positioned together, near the front of the office, and they have been designed for the main work they do: discussion, collaboration, and serving students.

Most of the Executive Council’s time is spent in meetings with stakeholders from NAIT, the government, and of course, guiding NAITSA’s Executive Director. A dedicated boardroom just for the executive team means that the rest of the staff will not be competing with the EC’s for meeting space.

The previous NAITSA offices had a 3-foot counter which acted as a kitchen for the 70+ staff at NAITSA. The new office includes a kitchen/communal lunch space that was designed to foster a workplace culture of collaboration and team-building, and provide very practical and needed space for cold and frozen food storage for NAITSA events.

NAITSA Move Fun Facts and Challenges

NAITSA put in a great deal of time and effort (two years of discussions and planning) around the functional programming and design for staff & students, to create the best possible space going into the future.

The final design selection was called ‘Haven’. The concept is a space that both incorporates and mimics natural elements and captures them in an uplifting palate. Nature helps people feel calm, serene and connected in ways that lift and rejuvenate. Therefore, Haven strives to connect people to each other in their workplace in the same way that they feel connected to nature. Natural materials and organic textures provide a cozy and sensory experience.

The focus for staff and students: consideration of right to light, staff and students feeling connected, connection to nature, texture, wellbeing, rejuvenating and welcoming.

NAITSA was given full control on the design and finishing of the space, and their goal was to create a separate, defined space that would be unique from the rest of the campus.

The new office is highly focused on ergonomics for the health and well-being of current and future students and staff. Sit-stand desks have been put throughout the space as experts have advised that this is the way of the future in office environments.
NAITSA put in a great deal of time and effort (two years of discussions and planning) around the functional programming and design for staff & students, to create the best possible space going into the future.
NAITSA was given full control on the design and finishing of the space, and their goal was to create a separate, defined space that would be unique from the rest of the campus.
The final design selection was called ‘Haven’. The concept is a space that both incorporates and mimics natural elements and captures them in an uplifting palate. Nature helps people feel calm, serene and connected in ways that lift and rejuvenate. Therefore, Haven strives to connect people to each other in their workplace in the same way that they feel connected to nature. Natural materials and organic textures provide a cozy and sensory experience.

The focus for staff and students: consideration of right to light, staff and students feeling connected, connection to nature, texture, wellbeing, rejuvenating and welcoming.

The new office is highly focused on ergonomics for the health and well-being of current and future students and staff. Sit-stand desks have been put throughout the space as experts have advised that this is the way of the future in office environments.

If you have any more questions, asknaitsa@nait.ca