Kwantlen opens $36m Wilson School of Design

Chip Wilson family donated $8m toward the new school

KPU's Wilson School of Design was announced in 2012 and officially opened for classes on January 3 | KPU

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) on January 3 officially opened its new $36 million Wilson School of Design, a facility  financed in part by Lululemon Athletica Inc. (Nasdaq:LULU) founder Chip Wilson and his family.

The yogawear giant contributed $4 million to the project while $12 million came each from the B.C. government and KPU. The project was announced in 2012.

The new design school is at KPU’s Richmond campus and adds 140 full-time seats to give KPU a total of 681 spaces for design students.

The university also has two campuses in Surrey and one in Langley.

KPU’s Richmond campus had been a site with only one building. The new Wilson School of Design building is beside that original structure and has a bridge to link it to the old building.

“We’re on the fifth floor now and we can look down to the second floor,” KPU vice-president Marlyn Graziano told Business in Vancouver after a tour of the new facility.

“There are no secrets in this building. It is so different. If you have walls around you they are made of glass so you can see out and people can see in and everybody can jump into each other’s work. That’s the idea.”

The new school adds teaching studios and labs, a testing centre, gallery space and study and design spaces for students. It will also house advanced technology, such as laser cutters, 3D printers and ultrasonic welders.

Existing design programs at KPU include a bachelor of design in fashion and technology, bachelor of interior design and continuing and professional education.

“B.C.'s environment creates a demand for technical apparel that is unparalleled in the world,” said Chip Wilson in a release.

“The province is home to world-class technical apparel companies, and we now have a state-of-the-art facility and training programs to supply the technical demand.”

B.C.’s apparel industry generates $3.8 billion in sales revenue, with more than 400 businesses employing over 7,600 people in the province, according to the B.C. government. It is the fourth-largest component of B.C.’s manufacturing sector.

gkorstrom@biv.com 

@GlenKorstrom