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Kwantlen's new school of design unveiled

The public was treated Tuesday to a first-look at artists renderings of the $36 million Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design, to be built over the course of the next three years at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Architect John Wall, from PUBLIC Architecture and Communication of Vancouver, who is part of the design team selected for the architectural and interior design, said the inspiration came from the client's desire to merge five different design disciplines into one space.

"By its very nature, it needs to be interdisciplinary, it needs to be a flexible space. You want to get all the students working together and thinking together, so you get the interior designers talking to the fashion designers, talking to the product designers because they can actually learn a lot about design from eachother," Wall said during Tuesday's preview attended by Chip and Shannon Wilson, founders of apparel company Lululemon Athletica.

"So it's an idea of somewhat breaking down the silos. People just thinking about what good design is, in a holistic way. So our approach to the building is along the same lines."

The building will serve as more than just a home for aspiring designers; the building itself is a teaching tool, providing a less on good architecture with examples of its structural/mechanical/electrical systems, Wall said.

One of the primary drivers of the building is sustainability, and it has been designed to provide an abundance of natural light and natural ventilation and made with durable materials, he said.

"It's not a 20-year building. Hopefully it's a 200-year building...It will be a part of Richmond's cultural fabric for a long time."

Over the next couple of decades, Wall said this area of Richmond will transform, with the western facade of this design school almost serving as the terminus for a 10-metre wide linear park currently in the planning stages by the City of Richmond for along Lansdowne Road and extending toward the Richmond Olympic Oval.

"That park is meant to be for festivals, for cultural events, for open-air art functions and things like that. So here's the school of design right near the new central park. So we see that western facade that faces the park as really critical. It needs to be a beautiful building."

The design school became a reality thanks to a $12 million gift from Shannon and Chip Wilson, a donation that was matched by both the province of B.C. and Kwantlen.

The new design school, over the next three years, promises to become a hub for fashion and design in Metro Vancouver.

It will offer innovative education in fashion, interior and product design, and graphic design and marketing.

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