The changing face of the U of W

Major construction almost complete for many buildings

The Buhler Centre is just one of many construction projects wrapping up for the U of W this fall. Cindy Titus

The Buhler Centre opened its doors for the first time on Aug. 26 with a celebration that attracted the Governor General and previewed a number of construction and expansion projects currently taking place by The University of Winnipeg.

“Our current construction work is about right-sizing our campus,” said Dan Hurley, senior executive officer and advisor to the president of the U of W. “We occupy a building built to be used by only 5,000 students when our tuition numbers are double that.”

The centre will be home to the U of W’s faculty of business and economics, continuing education as well as The Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, relocated from McDermot Avenue.

With the creation of a larger campus, the university hopes to attract more students, accommodate cramped staff and distinguish itself among competition.

“At the end of the day, students want to get jobs,” said Michael Benarroch, dean of the U of W’s business and economics department. “With high profile buildings like the Buhler Centre we can get the recognition we deserve as a first-rate institution.”

In November, Benarroch’s faculty will move to the Buhler Centre, ending its struggles for larger classrooms and resources.

“A member of our staff has had her office moved several times and shares her office with others. Now we won’t have to worry about that,” he explained.

One man who is also pleased with the centre is David Penner, whose architectural firm, David Penner Architect, teamed up with two others to design the building.

“It’s a hybrid building, meaning there’s a diverse group of uses. We saw potential for exploration between the three diverse inhabitants to interact,” he said.

Other projects on the go include The AnX in the former Greyhound Bus depot at 491 Portage Ave., as well as the Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex. Both are on budget and on schedule, with the bookstore seamlessly transitioning to The AnX by mid-October. In January it will be joined by a medical clinic, retail plaza and pub.

At end of day students want to get jobs. With high profile buildings like the Buhler Centre we can get the recognition we deserve as a first rate institution.

Dan Hurley, senior executive officer and advisor to the president of the U of W

The Richardson Complex, at the intersection of Portage Avenue and Langside Street, is slated to be finished by March and be functional by next fall. As a stimulus project by the federal government, the building will accommodate the flourishing science faculty with state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms.

The university was recently approached by The Hudson’s Bay Company, located at 450 Portage Ave., to occupy a few floors of the historic premises. Possibilities for the space include a national centre for indigenous studies and a conference hall.

“The indigenous centre would house archives, programs and be a place for students, scholars and tourists,” Hurley said.

The Community Renewal Corporation at the university is looking after the campus expansion. So far they’ve monitored the completion of McFeetors Hall, the UWSA Daycare, the Duckworth Centre expansion (including Soma Café) and the Canwest Centre for Theatre and Film.

Other work around the university includes the city’s new UWinnipeg Balmoral Transit Terminal and brickwork on crosswalks.

Routine maintenance will be done to areas of the existing campus including new flooring in Centennial Hall, replacing the library’s roof and repairing the Bulman Centre’s mobile wall.

Even though the amount of work to be done is daunting, the university is confident in its completion.

“I see no reason for anything to be completed behind schedule,” Hurley said.

Visit for construction updates and detailed plans.

Published in Volume 65, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 2, 2010)

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