The Oilers are in the playoffs! In honour of the Oilers' first playoff game since 2006 on April 12, we'll be sharing interviews with just two of the many people who had a hand in building the new arena. Megan Classens was a field coordinator for PCL at Rogers Place. During the construction of the arena, we chatted with Megan about her experience working on such a massive project that would inevitably become an iconic gathering place in the city.
We sat in one of the many white trailers lined up beside the curvaceous spaceship taking shape outside. The arena seemed to glow in the midday sun as countless hardhat-wearing folks worked on every corner of the construction site. Megan wore a plaid button-up and sat in front a architectural plan of the arena pinned to the wall. She spoke softly and smiled easily when talking about how privileged she felt to be working on Rogers Place.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? Was this it?
When I was a kid, it probably ranged from being a doctor to a flight attendant.
You never thought it would be something like this?
Even when I was in school, I never thought I'd be doing something like this, but I ended up really liking it. It's awesome, every day is challenging.
Are you a fan of hockey?
I am definitely an Oilers fan especially since moving to Edmonton.
Do you have any fond memories of Rexall Place?
Probably my first game when I went there because it was my first NHL game that I'd ever been to. That was exciting.
How old were you when you went there?
I think I would have been 19.
What do you think it will be like when you walk into the finished Rogers Place for the first time?
Going to games here will be so amazing. This arena, there's so much to it. It's pretty modern. It's unlike anything I've ever seen. Just being able to know that I was working on this project, to see the finished product with all the fans will be quite exciting.
Have you been working on this project since the beginning?
I started as a student back in 2014 for groundbreaking. I worked here for 6 months and then I went backed to school to finish my engineering school. Then I started again in July.
So this is your first project with PCL out of school?
No, this is my first PCL project ever. I was hired on as a student; I started here at this project.
What did you go to school for?
I went to school for civil engineering at the University of Alberta.
What made you want to study civil engineering?
To start it off, I really like hands-on. I really like math. Then I got a job for the Town of Coaldale, where I'm from. It ended up being a lot of construction monitoring. I really liked construction, to see how everything comes together.
What's your job like day-to-day?
Day-to-day I work with my superintendent on the middle floors. We have it divided up. The types of things I do is work on safety to make sure trades are following our site safety plan. I do a lot with quality to ensure that they're following their quality plan and that the items installed are to the right specs. I also help push schedules to make sure that we can get it all done on time and then coordinate work. Certain trades have to be in certain areas before other trades.
What's the most important thing for you in your job?
The most important thing working in this field is safety. We want to make sure that everyone gets home safe at the end of the day.
Do you have any memorable stories from your job? Anything you feel really proud of? A day you went home and you thought, "That was a good day."
One of the really good days was when we had the first seat installed. For me, that was really cool. I got to sit in it and look back at the arena. "Wow, this has come so far." When I started in 2014, it was just piling. It was essentially a dirt hole and now to be able to sit in that first seat, that's pretty exciting ... It was Section 101, I think row 4, seat 20.
"One of the really good days was when we had the first seat installed. For me, that was really cool. I got to sit in it and look back at the arena."
What did it feel like when you were sitting in that seat, looking down? What were you thinking about?
Sitting in the seat it was definitely exciting and it was also a proud moment for our team to make it this far. "It's really happening, final product, you can see it." I'm very excited for the concerts and games to come.
It must be something when you're working on a project like this and it's so huge. Then to see it stage by stage slowly being built and being realized.
This is my first project for PCL, so starting as a student with the piling work and then coming back just as they finish steel, I got to see ... the only section I missed was mainly the steel erection. To see it from the ground coming up is really exciting and now we're putting all the final touches in like base and tile. Some of the TV brackets are going in, final paint. We're punching out our final inspections. So it's really exciting to see what it's going to look like. This is the final product.
Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your career after this?
For being my first project, I think, "How could I top this?" Hopefully there will be other exciting projects I get to work on. And then, to just learn a lot.
After working on something like this, is there any project in particular that you hope you work on one day?
Another project that would be exciting to work on is all the towers going up across the street. To stay in this downtown area and see the rest of the Ice District grow would be very exciting.
Do you live downtown?
I do not live downtown. I live near White Ave.
Do you think the arena will make you come downtown more often?
For sure. I think it's going to be awesome. The downtown will definitely be changed. I think a lot more people will enjoy the downtown.
Megan Classens is currently working on another PCL project in Edmonton.