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UWindsor reveals vision for downtown campus

Preliminary renderings of the University of Windsor’s downtown campus were revealed by president Alan Wildeman during a media conference Wednesday, April 17, in the Windsor Armouries.

“The University of Windsor is creating new spaces where our students, faculty and staff can be engaged in innovative teaching, learning and discovery, and where they can more effectively partner with the arts community and social agencies to make a difference,” Dr. Wildeman said.

“Just as the new engineering building, innovation centre and the Odette School of Business will create a regional address for innovation at California and Wyandotte, our downtown campus will create an important cultural hub for our community, providing access to services and new ideas that speak to the quality of life, when it opens in the fall of 2014.”

The renderings were created by CS&P Architects Inc., the firm that will be working on all three historic projects: the Windsor Armouries, the former Greyhound bus depot and the Windsor Star building.

CS&P managing principal Craig Goodman called the new downtown University precinct, based on a collection of three remarkable heritage buildings, “truly inspirational.”

“Each of the buildings harbours a wonderful and unique character that speaks to the history of the city, and offers dynamic synergies for these new exemplary state-of-the-art student environments,” he said.

The Windsor Armouries will be transformed to become the home of the newly merged schools of music and visual arts. Ample skylights and a vertical addition on the south end of the 110-year old building are just a few of the many changes in store for this Windsor landmark.

The film production program will be relocated to the former Greyhound bus depot located directly across University Avenue from the Armouries. The original art deco façade will be restored and a new one-storey addition will stretch the entire block north to Chatham Street. The Chatham Street Parkette located on the north side will be recreated as a small outdoor performance and gathering space. Together, the Armouries and bus depot will create a sense of connectivity through shared space, giving students the opportunity to collaborate between the various programs and with the community.

The School of Social Work and the Centre for Professional and Executive Education will move into the Windsor Star building, which will undergo a renovation unlike any other architectural design in Windsor.

“The Windsor Star building will receive a dramatic transformation that will leave the historic façades intact, but completely rebuild the structures into new teaching and learning spaces with convenient access for the community,” said Wildeman.

The brick façade of the 1918 apartment building on the south end of the complex facing Ferry Street will remain, and the interior floors will be removed and recreated as a landscaped courtyard that will be open to the sky. The historic limestone façade at the corner of Pitt and Ferry streets will also be left in its original state, but will see an entirely new building built behind it with a three-storey atrium and a rooftop terrace. The structure facing Pitt Street will be renovated into classrooms, offices and student lounge space featuring glass-paneled walls that open like garage doors.

The parking lot currently located at the northwest corner of Ferry and Chatham streets may be developed into a new building as future demand grows for these programs.

In addition to a provincial government investment of $15 million, the City of Windsor donated the Armouries and the Greyhound Bus Depot, as well as $10 million in funding to assist the University in creating its downtown campus.

The remaining funding for these capital projects, which are expected to total approximately $70 million, is separate from the University’s operating budget and will be supported through program revenues and fundraising.

Wildeman explained, “We have taken a long time to develop a capital plan that will see us elevate our University to a new level, and does not burden our operating budget which of course continues to be constrained during these times of austerity.”

Visit www.uwindsor.ca/downtown/ to view the new renderings and join the conversation about the University of Windsor’s exciting new plans to help revitalize downtown Windsor.