Wilson School of Design Construction delayed

Budget concerns prolong design school creation.

Graphic by Mark Stewart

(Mark Stewart / The Runner)

By Tristan Johnston
[staff writer]

Construction of the Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design, a $36-million project at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Richmond campus, has been delayed. The design school website still states that the project will be completed in January of 2016.

Gordon Lee, the vice-president of finance and administration for KPU, says that construction was delayed due to budget concerns. “The construction bids went out, and estimates for building costs came in and they were over budget.”

He points out that there are several things to consider, including the necessity of using engineered wood because Richmond’s ground isn’t stable enough for heavy building of concrete. “The B.C. government incentivises wood use, so it needs to be built with wood. The design of the building is very advanced as well, and some of the cost goes into the design,” he says. “The plan going forward is to keep the building and design costs within the original $36 million.”

In a recent move to further support the lumber industry in B.C., the provincial building code was changed to allow for six-storey construction of woodframe buildings, up from the earlier limit of four storeys.

The minutes from the university’s board of governors meeting states that, “Negotiations with the lowest bidder are underway for changes and price adjustments to bring the work and costs within the pre-tender budget amount: an update on the new timeline for opening will emerge from those negotiations.”

The report also states that Chip and Shannon Wilson have donated a further $500,000 to the school. As part of this donation, Chip and Shannon have committed $60,000 per year in scholarship funding over the next five years (September 2014 through September 2019) to fund international travel for students and faculty in the Bachelor of Design: Fashion and Technology and Post-Baccalaureate in Technical Apparel Design.

In addition, another $200,000 will be used for the “Vision Execution Fund” over the next 16 months (September 2014 through January 2016) to “fund opportunities that will elevate the profile of the Wilson School of Design.”

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