by Diane Poulin
The University of Winnipeg is on track to execute the most ambitious campus and community redevelopment plan in its history. The projects have attracted just over $30 million to Winnipeg’s downtown in private-public funding since May 2009. That’s a tremendous boost to the core for all who live, work, study and play in the area.
A quick drive down Portage Avenue demonstrates how the U of W is kick-starting downtown development.
McFeetors Hall: Great-West Life Student Residence — Built on UWinnipeg's emerging western Furby-Langside Campus, McFeetors Hall provides a home for 176 students, plus 25 student families in townhouse-style units that are unique in Canada. This Silver LEED certified building includes leading-edge environmental technologies such as geo-thermal heating to foster sustainability and energy efficiency. Construction began in July 2008 and was completed on time and on budget in September 2009. The building is fully occupied.
New UWSA Day Care Centre — Next to McFeetors Hall, the new University of Winnipeg Students' Association Day Care Centre is now open. It serves 116 preschoolers, toddlers and infants from the university and the surrounding neighbourhood, making it one of downtown’s largest and finest child care facilities. Construction was completed in September 2009.
Science Complex emerging on U of W’s Western campus — Construction of the new Science Complex and Richardson College for the Environment is well underway, and is one of the most significant projects in the U of W’s development plan. It will contain state-of-the-art highly energy-efficient teaching and research laboratories for biology, chemistry and environmental studies that will attract world-class scholars to Manitoba. The facility will also be a policy centre for environmental issues, community learning and a centre for applied research in environmental technologies.
The U of W is the first university in Canada to partner with networking technology leader Cisco. It means the environmental science program will be able to increase research on “green” technology and expand its collaboration with industry, leading to more business opportunities. A Cisco TelePresence™ system will allow for virtual world-wide meetings. The U of W will become a hub for a provincial network of Cisco TelePresence™ sites, as the government of Manitoba funds TelePresence systems at the University of Brandon (Brandon) and University College of the North (The Pas). Efforts are underway to extend the TelePresence™ network to include a node in Ottawa.
Construction of the Science Complex began June 1, 2009, and is scheduled to be completed in 2011.
Buhler Centre, 460 Portage Ave. — Winnipeg business icons and philanthropists John and Bonnie Buhler donated $4 million to the University of Winnipeg on January 22 this year, the largest private donation in the university’s history. Of the total, $3 million will support construction of one of the downtown's signature buildings at 460 Portage Ave. to be named the Buhler Centre, and $1 million will support business students with special scholarships.
The U of W will now be able to consolidate its entire faculty of business and economics inside the Buhler Centre at the corner of Portage Avenue and Colony Street, the former site of the United Army Surplus store. The centre will include state-of-the-art classrooms, computer labs and meeting spaces.
In addition to the faculty of business and economics, the eco-friendly Silver LEED Buhler Centre will be home to the U of W’s division of Continuing Education and Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art. It will add 50,000 square feet to Winnipeg’s downtown. Construction at 460 Portage Ave. began in October 2009 for completion this fall.
The ANX, 491 Portage Ave. — Downtown Winnipeg is about to get one of its largest bookstores for students, residents and office workers in a newly-refurbished space in the former Greyhound bus depot. The main floor refurbishment will include other retail activities such as a food and beverage outlet.
The new modern 6,000-square-foot bookstore will be the anchor tenant in a retail plaza featuring a new state-of-the-art website for on-line purchasing. It will be open for business in 2010.
In the lower concourse level at 491 Portage Ave., an additional 10 classrooms with smart technology, a computer lab, offices, student lounge and meeting rooms was completed in September 2009, allowing students from the English language program to relocate from the Massey Building in the Exchange District to the main university campus.
(Diane Poulin is the communications officer at the University of Winnipeg.