Surrey’s Campus Evolution

Kwantlen Polytechnic | BCBusiness
Kwantlen Polytechnic’s Cloverdale campus

SFU Surrey and Kwantlen Polytechnic are closing big deals and focusing on community and sustainability

It’s something of a Cinderella story. In less than a decade, the student population at SFU’s downtown Surrey campus has risen from approximately 200 students inherited from the ill-fated Tech BC to more than 7,000 full-time students and another 1,000 in continuing education.

Designed by Bing Thom, SFU’s 350,000-square-foot Surrey campus is a blend of glass, exposed concrete and wood, where well-used, open gathering spaces intersect with multi-purpose lecture halls and specialized science and research labs.

Students, faculty and visitors to the restaurants, shops and services of the adjoining Central City Shopping Centre mingle fluidly. Here science, art and life become a vibrant whole.

And it’s not only the architecture that’s cutting-edge. Innovative partnerships have attracted increasing attention from corporations and agencies willing to not only walk the walk, but invest funds into paving the pathways of technical advancement.

The B.C. Knowledge Development Fund, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation are just a few of the donors that contributed funds toward practical research. Joanne Curry, associate vice-president of external relations and executive director, is also particularly excited about a $1.25-million investment from the Boeing Co. to help launch the Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics (VIVA), an SFU and UBC research project she hopes will put Metro Vancouver on the map in visual analytics research.

Then there are SFU’s community outreach programs. Opened in May 2013, the SFU Surrey TD Community Engagement Centre is one of the most recent examples. “The Centre fosters connections between SFU and the ethnically diverse South Fraser community with a focus on supporting new immigrant families,” Curry says.

Geographically a little farther south, Kwantlen Polytechnic University continues its steady expansion to meet increasing demand for skilled tradespeople. But as it does, it is also making its campuses models of efficiency and environmental stewardship.

The $42.3-million, 183,000-square-foot Cloverdale campus was Surrey’s first LEED-Gold facility and is estimated to be 33 per cent more energy efficient than comparable North American universities. Ninety per cent of rooms (including workshops) have outdoor views and blue-tinged pine-beetle wood has been incorporated into architectural detailing that also creates enhanced acoustic absorption.

KPU’s Coast Capital Savings Library at the main campus on 72nd Avenue was the city’s second LEED-Gold facility and, according to Karen Hearn, executive director of facility services, boasts a 50 per cent energy savings over similar buildings.

Hearn shares Curry’s belief that educational facilities should feel welcoming to the entire community. “We were committed to creating an inviting street presence,” she says, adding that the trade reference library is open to all Surrey residents.