The transfer of city-owned properties to the University of Windsor will advance planning for the development of its downtown campus, president Alan Wildeman said Monday, after Windsor City Council voted to turn the Armouries, the former bus depot and the Chatham Street parkette over to the University.
The downtown campus expansion plans touches on every goal of the University’s strategic plan, said Dr. Wildeman.
“We continue to work with the faculty and student user groups to ensure we are meeting their needs and providing spaces for inspiration, innovation, and community partnership,” he said. “As the university is focused on redeveloping learning and research spaces, we are also focused on showing students how their education is relevant to the world around them. All of the facilities are being designed in a way that will encourage engagement with the community and partners. “
The transfer of these lands is in addition to the $10 million the City of Windsor has given to the University toward the development of these properties. The provincial government has also donated $15 million toward the University’s expansion into the downtown core.
A closing date for the transfer will be dependent on the University meeting a list of conditions, which are standard for most transfer agreements. One unique factor is the proximity of the properties to the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, something that has been a key consideration in the architectural designs.
The Windsor-Detroit Tunnel runs under the road on the east side of the Armouries, which will be the new home of the combined schools of music and visual arts, and directly below the former bus depot where a one-storey studio building is planned to house the film production and sculpture programs. One of the conditions of the transfer agreement is that the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel must approve the designs of any buildings over its property.
Craig Goodman, principal architect from the firm CS&P architects, presented conceptual designs to City Council and has taken special care to meet this unusual circumstance.
“Although the Armouries doesn’t sit directly on the tunnel, the renovation project will be choreographed so that heavy construction equipment being used along Freedom Way will not impact the tunnel,” he said. “The new space for the film production program on the bus depot property has also been specifically designed so that there will be no impact.”
An excavation will see the creation of a new lower level added to the Armouries, allowing for additional learning spaces and a performance venue, with a stage and tiered seating for approximately 140.
See more images of the proposed spaces on the Web site of the downtown campus.