DESIGN students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) will soon be in a new high-tech facility that will drive their budding design, creative and business goals to the next level, announced Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training on Wednesday.
Mark was joined by students, KPU faculty and staff and project donors Chip and Shannon Wilson to open the newest addition to KPU’s campus in Richmond.
The new Wilson School of Design will add 140 full-time seats for a total of 681 spaces for design students. New facilities will 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.
“Design careers are vital for a 21st-century diversified economy,” said Mark. “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 $36-million 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.
“B.C.’s environment creates a demand for technical apparel that is unparalleled in the world,” said Chip Wilson. “The province is home to world-class technical apparel companies, and we now have a state-of-the-art facility and training programs to supply the technical demand.”
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. It is the fourth-largest component of B.C.’s manufacturing sector.
“Our vision is for B.C. to continue as a globally recognized leader in athletic performance apparel,” said Shannon Wilson. “Chip and I share a passion for nurturing creative talent, and we are thrilled to partner with KPU to help develop the next generation of designers and innovators.”
The $36-million Wilson School of Design building was funded through a $12-million contribution from the B.C. government, $12 million from KPU and $12 million in donations that include $8 million from Chip and Shannon Wilson.
“The KPU community is very appreciative of the support we have received from the Wilsons and the Province and their recognition of our history of excellence in design education,” said Alan Davis, KPU president and vice-chancellor. “The new school of design building gives us the opportunity to expand our programming, research and innovation activities, so our students can continue to innovate and drive a burgeoning B.C. economy.”
“I am excited about the future because of this great opportunity to work in this new space,” said Leah Katz, a first-year product design student in the Wilson School of Design. “I am so glad I chose this school to pursue my design path, and am grateful to the many donors and supporters involved in making this new campus a reality.”
Government is directly investing more than $1 billion in planned capital expenses in the post-secondary sector over the next three years.