The $36 million Wilson School of Design, a new high-tech facility addition to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) campus in Richmond, is now open. Designed by Vancouver based Public Architecture and Toronto-based KPMB Architects, the uniquely west coast design boasts 60,000 square feet with a total of 681 spaces for design students.
New facilities include innovative teaching studios and labs, a testing centre, gallery space and expanded study and design spaces for students. It will also house advanced technology, such as laser cutters, 3D printers and ultrasonic welders.
According to Public Architecture, the site in the Fraser River delta posed challenges such as a very high water table, infirm soils, and seismic conditions. The design responds to site conditions with a very light yet rigid structure of oversized glue-laminated beams, referencing ship construction.
The project was funded 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, founders of founders of Vancouver-based lululemon athletica.
“Design careers are vital for a 21st-century diversified economy,” said Melanie Mark, B.C. Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Cultivating design talent here in British Columbia will support the apparel sector, which is poised for strong growth. The programs in the new building will create exciting choices for students, as well as support for local design industries.”
The building will provide a space for a range of existing design programs at KPU, such as the bachelor of design in fashion and technology, bachelor of interior design and continuing and professional education. It will also house KPU’s product design and technical apparel design programs, which educate students in the development of performance, technical, medical and protective apparel and gear.
British Columbia’s apparel industry generates $3.8 billion in sales revenue, with more than 400 businesses employing over 7,600 people in the province.