MUNSU’s student bar, The Breezeway, is officially opened after two years of renovations, but the original Breezeway has been inaccessible for over twenty years.
Thousands and generations of students who passed through the Chemistry Physics building since the early 2000s all hold a similar curiosity.
There is a green space in the centre of the building, and students “want to go to there,” as shown on Tiktok.
Overgrown and untouched, the green space closed in 2000 due to fire safety issues, according to Memorial’s Manager of Minor Capital Projects in Engineering & Construction, Mike Foley.
Initially constructed in 1968, the greenspace was once a lively courtyard. The (now) chemistry physics building was shaped like a horseshoe, shielding students from the wind; hence the name Breezeway.
The building also had a cafeteria, which made the courtyard a popular spot for student events and student union barbecues.
Major renovations & courtyard reopening plans
In 2019, CBC NL published an article about the courtyard’s history and potential.
Memorial’s former facilities manager, Keith Bowden, explained: “the garden could be reopened once construction of Memorial’s new science building is finished and the chemistry department moves into its new facility.”
MUN’s new Core Science Facility (CSF) opened in fall of 2021, providing a new location for the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Biology/Chemistry– vacating space in the chemistry/physics building.
Vacant space has prompted significant renovation planning as the university hopes to redevelop the Biotechnology and Chemistry/Physics building and tear down the old science building, moving many Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) departments into a redeveloped space.
Facilities management says they are “taking opportunity with individual departments to discuss what’s not working, what can be done better, dedicated and shared spaces for people,” said Foley.
Detail planning is happening now, and facilities management is working with an architectural engineer.
The goal is to have a set of documents where the university can issue a tender to hire a contractor to do the work at the end of 2022. However, funding must be identified and seamlessly approved by the Board of Regents first.
“Overall there’s a fantastic plan,” said Foley, but it is a multi-year project.
Either way, Foley assured that redeveloping the mysterious courtyard is part of the plan– and includes adding proper fire exits and wheelchair accessibility so future Memorial students can “go to there.”