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HCC 7050

More Than Just a Computer Lab

A little while ago, I decided to dedicate some time to work on my Strategy paper, so I headed to where I always did when I needed to focus: the 7th floor lab at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre campus.

It was a routine perfected over the course of 10 semesters at the school: grab some lunch at the food court downstairs, purchase a drink from Dollarama, then head up using the elevators near the Bookstore.

But when I exited the lift, what I saw really slammed home the fact that my time at SFU was coming to an end.

SFU Harbour Old
SFU’s Harbour Centre campus before renovations. Image source: van12k92 on Flickr

I remember my first time at the Harbour Centre campus.

My friends and I were taking the newly-constructed Canada Line on our way to an adventure. Getting off at the Vancouver City Centre station, we walked across the street to London Drugs, then to Seymour Street where we visited 7-Eleven and A&W for a quick bite. Finally, we ended up making our way to what I thought was Vancouver’s iconic spinning restaurant.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw all the SFU logo. I was a few years away from post-secondary education at that point, and schools were the furthest thing from my mind. Still, I thought to myself, surprised:

“this is where the famously large SFU is? It’s tiny!”

Fast forward five years later, and I was taking my first course there as an SFU student. By that point, I realized that SFU really was massive, with a 1.7 km² main campus sitting atop Burnaby Mountain. But having taken the one-and-a-half-hour long ride up the bumpy, bumpy road five days a week for my first semester, I was excited to spend one evening a night downtown learning about macroeconomics.

At first glance, you couldn’t tell that there were more than three floors to the building. All you would see is two sets of escalators: one going up and another going down.

The real gems, however, were hidden away and only accessible by the elevator. These included a keycode-protected student lounge with a kitchen and wall outlets, as well as a study area with a gorgeous view of the False Creek waterfront. However, the buried treasure was stowed all the way up on the 7th floor.

7th Floor Lab Computers
These computers were running Windows 7 during my time.

HCC 7050, known as the 7th floor lab, contained 30 Dell computers as well as equipment for instructors. These computers were laid out on six workbench-style desks with ample room for spreading out books and papers. It was typically quiet, with only a few people in there at a time, all keeping to themselves.

I discovered this lab for the first time while looking to study for my Economics final. After visiting the student lounge and deciding that it was too crowded, I headed back into the elevator. I pushed floors 4, 5, and 6, but none of those buttons worked. Finally, I hit the big red 7 and the elevator began moving.

After stepping off and entering the lab, I settled down at a workstation and stayed there for the next four years. Seriously; during every finals period of every semester, I spent at least one day there studying. And always at the same computer, of course.

7th Floor Lab Remains
Remnants of the lab.

The lab was a cornerstone of my life over the past four years. It was a place that was always there when I needed it, and one that is attached to so many memories as a student, both good and bad.

The 7th floor lab was a place that I discovered when my academic career was just beginning, and one I relied on throughout. So, I guess it is only fitting that it was finally closed during my last semester at Simon Fraser University. 

Here’s to you, HCC 7050. ∎

Derek Woo

By day, Derek builds email campaigns and marketing automations. By night, however, he switches gears and builds on his lengthy lists of unfinished writing drafts. And sometimes, when the stars align (literally – he usually should be sleeping when this happens), he finally finishes one of these drafts and publishes it in the hopes that someone, somewhere will enjoy the read.

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