RMIT students are set to get their first sneak peek at New Academic Street next Monday.
NAS Unleashed is RMIT’s series of art shows, lectures and tours aimed at getting students engaged in the three-year long renovations.
The university hopes New Academic Street will improve the student experience but staff and students will face three years of traffic problems and vanishing learning spaces.
New Academic Street’s project director Jeremy Elia said NAS Unleashed will give students, staff and Melburnians a chance to see the rewards of the long construction project.
“This series is student focused. They don’t want to be bombarded with emails about the project. They prefer more engaging activities like this one to see what they can get out of New Academic Street and how we’re managing issues.”
RMIT will open NAS Unleashed with a virtual reality tour of New Academic Street powered by Occulus Rift goggles.
Swanston Street will light up on Tuesday, White Night style, with large scale projections of RMIT students’ art on university buildings
And there will be a series of public lectures provided by construction partners Lyons, Lend Lease and AECOM to give students an opportunity to learn from this project.
Mr Elia said this offers “opportunities for internships with partner companies and we also have students working with us in the office.”
New Academic Street will rip apart RMIT’s buildings 8, 10, 12 and 14, creating themed floors, outdoor canopies and a new media lab. It will also completely renovate the main city library.
Traffic problems are expected but Mr Elia says due to the fact most of the work is being done inside, trams on Swanston Street will not be affected.
RMIT’s student union does have concerns about the problems New Academic Street construction may cause students.
Student Union president Himasha Foneska said he’s worried about the amount of disruption to classes and study spaces during the construction period.
“There will be spaces available for students away from the construction site but it is going to be a challenge spreading the information,” Mr Fonseka said.
Mr Elia admitted the project will cause disruptions but said “more space will be opened up for learning”.
RMIT’s Dean of Students, Owen Hughes, backed New Academic Street.
Professor Hughes said the project – some of which will be unveiled as early as October this year in Building 10 – will result in a “better service experience for students.”
“NAS Unleashed is a fantastic opportunity to get the inside running on a project that will transform City campus,” he said.
Despite his concerns, Mr Foneska is positive about the opportunities New Academic Street can bring for students once it’s finally finished.
“I am really looking forward to all of the new spaces that will be available for RUSU and our clubs to host events,” Mr Foneska said.
The New Academic Street team are keen to run these events at least once a year till 2017 when building is complete.
“We think once a year around this time [winter] is best because it gets dark early and we can get things like the public art kicked off at 6. During summer it will be hard to get students and staff to stick around,” he said.
Questions may remain over space but RMIT and its partners are betting NAS Unleashed – and the final project –will get the community on board.