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Wilson School of Design, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

  • Location Richmond, British Columbia
  • Client Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Architects KPMB Architects + Public: Architecture + Communication
  • Completion 2018
  • Size 60,000 ft² / 5,574 m²
  • Project type Education, Interiors
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Incubator for Excellence & Innovation

The vision for the new Wilson School of Design (WSOD) is to be the preeminent design school on the West Coast recognized for fostering innovation in technical fashion between fields of fashion, graphics, and interior design.

Located in Richmond, BC, in the delta of the Fraser River, the site conditions, including a very high water table, infirm soils, and seismic considerations, necessitated a structural approach that is at once very light but very stiff. In essence, the structure had to perform like a ship.

As Jane Jacobs observed: “new ideas need old buildings.” From New York to Milan, artists, designers and architects around the world work in studios in former historic industrial warehouse districts. Here, the industrial 19th century warehouse typology is evolved to create an open, rational grid with high ceilings and sustainable materials. It embodies first principles – 100% fresh air, natural light, views, and connection to the outdoors – with a flexible robust plan – heavy timber structural system, all to last 100+ years.

The program is organized into three zones. The Ground Zone is highly public and the main interface with industry. It includes testing labs and an incubator for BC Technical Fashion. The Mid Zone houses the teaching/studios, as well as Fashion, Interior Design and Graphics programs. The Upper Zone is designated for event/conference space.

As well as providing a new face and main entrance to the campus, the design re-orients the entire precinct to values of accessibility, sustainability, openness and transparency.