Diamond Schmitt Architects unveils design of new Emily Carr University in B.C.

Rendering by Norm Li.
Rendering by Norm Li.

The new year brings a major new chapter in the life of one of Canada’s most renowned art and design universities: the new campus of Canada’s prestigious Emily Carr University of Art + Design is set to open in September 2017.

Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the purpose-built facility is 285-thousand sq.ft. of state-of-the-art learning spaces. University president Ron Burnett says it will be “a centre for 21st Century learning in art, design, media, and applied research.”

The four-storey campus features a white Kalzip exterior, set against the backdrop of Vancouver’s skyline and mountains. Vancouver artist and Emily Carr University professor Landon Mackenzie, in collaboration with noted painter and colleague Ben Reeves, conceived the colour selections highlighting the exterior of the new building. The two artists created a palette of fifteen colours to reflect and honour the work of the renowned B.C. painter Emily Carr (1871-1945). Back-painted glass spandrel panels carry unique sequences of colour placement chosen by Mackenzie to express an artistic rhythm across the predominantly white metal panel facades of the building. Deep green, blue, purple and cedar red hues anchor a palette that moves toward mid and light tones. Historically referenced in the acclaimed paintings of Carr from the early 1900’s until her death in 1945, the colours at the same time are contemporary in feel and classic for the future.

Inside the building, the new facility features greatly expanded studio and learning spaces, circulation spaces which will be lined with student work, making the interior a constantly changing gallery of fine art and design; and three lecture theatres, including one 400-seat venue for major gatherings and events. The new Emily Carr University is designed to LEED Gold standards. Built at a total cost of approximately $122.5 million, the new campus will provide modern, spacious facilities for the university’s nearly 4,000 Canadian and international students.