Construction begins on design school at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Mon, Jul 4, 2016

Richmond, B.C. - Construction kicked off today on a new 6,000-square-metre Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) to ensure post-secondary students have the skills to succeed in a range of performance, technical apparel and product design sectors.

"KPU provides high-quality education and training for students pursuing a range of in-demand careers, including exciting careers in design," said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. "The new Wilson School of Design building will provide an essential nucleus for the growth and expansion of our vibrant design industry right here in B.C."

Once complete, the school will expand training capacity at the KPU Richmond campus by an additional 140 full-time seats for a total of 681 student spaces. New facilities will include innovative teaching studios and labs, a testing centre, gallery space and a student study space.

"With this remarkable facility, the exceptional talent, innovation and creativity already coming out of KPU's Wilson School of Design is going to have immeasurably greater impact on local, provincial and global design industries. The vision and generosity of the Wilsons is creating transformative opportunities for KPU's students, faculty and communities," said Dr. Alan Davis, president and vice-chancellor of KPU.

The new building will provide a home for a range of existing design programs at KPU such as the bachelor of design in fashion and technology, bachelor of interior design, continuing and professional education and more. It will also house the new product design and technical apparel design programs, which help students to develop products for performance-based uses such as performance, technical, medical and protective apparel and gear.

"This is an exciting day. The Wilson School of Design will be home to the best and brightest in the design and technical apparel industries - truly world class. This is a big move forward in the business history of B.C.," said Chip Wilson. Wilson and his wife Shannon are philanthropists and pioneers in technical apparel, and the founding family of Westbeach, lululemon, and Kit and Ace.

"Our goal has always been to cultivate design talent in B.C. so we can showcase the innovation and leadership that exists here. The new building will be a global hub for design excellence. We are thrilled to be part of it," said Shannon Wilson.

British Columbia has the fourth-largest apparel sector in North America with 600 businesses, generating 7,000 jobs in the province, 14,000 jobs globally and shipping $3 billion in goods to over 50 countries. The B.C. apparel sector is poised for strong growth over the next decade, with the potential to almost double current levels of employment.

Design careers, such as interior and web design, are among the top 100 high-demand occupations according to the BC Labour Market Outlook 2024.

"We are grateful to the Wilsons and the province for recognizing our deep history of excellence in design education and for providing us the opportunity to expand our programming, research and innovation activities. We are proud to say that our graduates are among the best in B.C. and around the world," said Carolyn Robertson, dean of the Wilson School of Design at KPU.

To date, hundreds of students have graduated from seven rigorous, studio-based and unrivalled programs under the Wilson School of Design.

"This new building will provide great opportunities for future and current students to study in an innovative space that will foster problem solving and allow for spontaneous collaboration between the design programs at KPU," said KPU design student Allison Gonzalez. "I am really looking forward to being able to learn in a building that will house everything a design student will need and want; from new and advanced technologies to collaboration spaces."

The $36-million Wilson School of Design building is being supported by a $12-million contribution from the B.C. government, $12 million from KPU and donations that include $8 million from Chip and Shannon Wilson. The project is estimated to create approximately 145 direct and 90 indirect jobs.

Construction of the Wilson School of Design is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017, with students starting classes as early as January 2018.

Quick Facts:

The new facility will provide an additional 6,000 square metres of space, increasing the academic space at KPU Richmond by approximately 125%.

The new building will accommodate 140 full-time equivalent seats for a total of 681 student spaces.

Facilities will include:

* New teaching studios.

* Testing and prototyping labs where students can design, prototype, test and market product concepts.

* A "usability lab."

* Gallery space for exhibitions of student work and curated shows related to innovation

* Student study space.

The building will house the Wilson School of Design's unique post-baccalaureate diploma in technical apparel, which provides education for future leaders and entrepreneurs in the performance, technical apparel and product design sectors.

KPU will repurpose the current design facilities to create new program areas in the faculty of business and to meet growing international student demand.

The building was designed by architects: KPMB Architects | Public: Architecture + Communication, Associated Architects.

The consultant team involved in the design of the project includes: Structural - Fast+Epp; Mechanical - AME Group; Electrical - AES Engineering; Landscape - PFS Studio; Civil - Core Group; Sustainability - Recollective; Building Code - GHL Consultants Ltd; Building Envelope - Morrison Hershfield Consultants.


Photos from the groundbreaking are available on Flickr

Media contacts:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist, KPU
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

Trish Fougner
Government Communications and Public Engagement Ministry of Advanced Education
250 952-6400

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