September 15, 2008
by Canadian Architect
The 2008-2009 academic year marks the completion of Bing Thom Architects’ award-winning Surrey Central City project in Surrey, a suburb southeast of Vancouver.
Simon Fraser University’s newest campus, a component of the Surrey Central City complex, has now launched its full complement of undergraduate and graduate programs, an important milestone since the opening of the innovative campus in 2006.
“The SFU campus that is part of the Surrey Central City project has attracted over 4,000 students this term who take courses as well as full programs at the Surrey campus,” said Joanne Curry, executive director of the SFU Surrey campus. “For the first time, we have had to close registration to programs and are nearing capacity in terms of our instructional space.”
Bing Thom, founder of Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects (www.bingthomarchitects.com), said, “We always intended for Central City to serve as a catalyst to create a new urban core for Surrey. We wanted to connect a learning institution to the broader community, and with the campus nearing full student capacity, we are proud to have achieved this goal.”
Curry said the distinctive architecture of the complex has provided the additional dividend of helping SFU attract top-quality teaching and staff talent. The SFU Surrey campus is in such demand that there is a longer waiting list than for the main SFU Burnaby campus.
Bing Thom Architects’ ambitious Surrey Central City project, a 1.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development, integrates an office tower, an existing shopping mall and the new SFU campus, which includes a three-storey “galleria” that appears to “float” over the mall. The galleria roof is fashioned out of heavy timber and resembles a tall, twisting prow of an overturned boat. Heavy timber construction was also used as the distinguishing characteristic for the roof over the main SFU entry area. The university portion contains 322,000 square feet of Surrey Central City space.
“To recognize British Columbia’s past, we chose to use timber construction, but to reflect our future, we interpreted wood in a very contemporary and high tech manner,” said Michael Heeney, Bing Thom’s partner and executive director of the firm.