Emily Carr Unveils Great Northern Way Campus Plan

On Wednesday, architects presented the new design of the Emily Carr University of Art + Design's (ECUAD) Great Northern Way campus to the city’s Urban Design Panel. “The building is designed to represent the excitement we all feel about the way creative industries have become a significant part of the GDP in B.C.,” says Ron Burnett, the university's president.

Central to the new campus will be a four storey building, oriented on an east-west axis. The building will have three north-south atria that will bring light into the centre of the building, a high-tech fibre optic network, and low-tech studios for ceramics and woodworking.

The building is intended to be welcoming to the surrounding east Vancouver neighbourhood. The East Arts Plaza will be big enough for summer performances, and will include a panel of LED screens on the building’s northeast corner to screen films and show video outdoors. Facing south at the main entrance is St. George Plaza, which takes its name from a stream that runs under the site.

As development continues in the area, Burnett said he expects highway-like vehicle speeds on Great Northern Way will be reduced through the addition of more traffic lights, and maybe even a median.

On the north side facing the railway tracks, the building presents a more industrial look. The ground floor will feature large garage doors that can accommodate hands-on art practices such as metal working, ceramics, pottery, and sculpture. On the third and fourth floors, large north-facing windows will allow for year-round natural lighting for painting and drawing.

The building will have a restaurant, an art gallery with a six-metre high ceiling, an aboriginal wood carving area, and a 400-seat theatre that can be modified for raked or flat seating.

“My hope for the North Building is that it would be converted into a centre for the arts,” he said. “I think it has tremendous potential for the city. The South Building — we don’t know what they intend to do. It’s still early days.”

No decision has been reached on what will happen to Emily Carr’s North and South Buildings at its campus on Granville Island, Burnett said. Canada Mortgage and House Corporation, which manages Granville Island, will make the final decision.

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