A look behind-the-scenes of the complex and much-anticipated transformation of the Arbor Room at Hart House.

For decades, the Arbor Room—located in the lower level of Hart House—was a beloved spot on campus to grab a bite to eat between classes, listen to live music in the evenings, and display your own talents on-stage at the famed Open Mic Nights. In 2018, Hart House closed the Arbor Room for renovations to transform the Arbor Room into a fully accessible and open space where everyone on campus would feel welcome.

We spoke with Jimmy Cheung, Director of Facilities and Capital Projects at Hart House, for an update. 

There have been many exciting milestones that have been achieved throughout this complex construction project. Aside from remedying some structural issues, including finding an engineering solution to refurbish the concrete floor, a significant focus of the revitalization has been on accessibility. This included modernizing the structural layout of a century-old building, creating an interior space based on universal design principles and developing a sustainability plan to save energy and water usage. Hart House is working closely with the Rick Hansen Foundation to achieve an accessible certification rating. 

Improvements included:

  • Widening the doorways and creating an accessible ramp and entrance to the Arbor Room from the outdoor patio. 
  • Improving air quality and temperature control of the room through a new HVAC system.
  • Pouring a completely new concrete floor.
  • Designing a new room layout to allow for easy flow throughout the seating area, food counters and checkout.
  • Building tables with clear knee space and counters at heights based on accessibility design standards.
  • Ensuring signage meets AODA height and readability guidelines.

Although there were some challenges along the way, including the management of two separate construction projects (one internal and one external) by two different companies, Jimmy feels optimistic that there is an opportunity for a late fall opening.

We cannot wait to unveil the new and modernized Arbor Room at Hart House with a spacious, accessible seating area, a new fresh and healthy menu, and updated and refreshed décor.

Stay tuned for more updates and details on the grand opening. We look forward to seeing you there. 

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