A $36 million "global" school of design will be built in Richmond, thanks to a cost-sharing deal struck between the founders of Lululemon, the B.C. government and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Work on the Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design - named after Lululemon's founding couple - will begin next fall, with completion expected in September 2015.
Premier Christy Clark made the announcement at Kwantlen's Richmond campus Friday morning, much to the delight of the hundreds of university students and staff who'd gathered to hear the news.
An extra 53,000-square feet of space will be created by the new school, increasing Kwantlen's Richmond campus' academic space by 124 per cent.
"The design industry is flourishing in B.C. and we have to make sure our young people are ready to take advantage," Clark told the crowd.
"Chip and Shannon are giving back to the province with this school; they could have gone somewhere else, but they wanted to create something right here.
"There's not a school like this in the world and this is going to be a place where people can train to be the best in the world."
The three project partners each committed $12 million to what they all describe as a place that's going to be a "hub of creative minds."
Chip Wilson said Clark's words had him close to tears, adding that he couldn't believe how supportive and enthusiastic Kwantlen has been since he proposed the idea.
"Last summer, in 2011, I read about a group of Italian students coming over here on an exchange trip to research fashion," Wilson said.
"I thought to myself 'Oh, my God, they're coming here to steal our ideas.'
"But Vancouver has the ability to be the best country in the world at this. (The school) is going to attract international attention."
The new school is expected to accommodate 651 domestic, international, continuing education, full- and part-time students with new facilities such as:
Teaching studios; testing and prototyping labs; materials research centre; a "Usability Lab", where students can design, prototype, test and market product concepts to consumers; gallery space for exhibitions of student work and curated shows related to innovation and student study space.
There will also be a "unique to Canada" post baccalaureate diploma in technical apparel to provide "training for future leaders and entrepreneurs in the performance and technical apparel and product sectors."
Once the new school has opened, KPU will repurpose the current design facilities to create new program areas in the Faculty of Business and to meet growing international student demand.
KPU president Alan Davis said the new school is very much part of its long-term goal to be the country's best polytechnic university.
"The quality of programs offered by KPU is one of the reasons B.C. is nationally and internationally recognized for the excellence of our post-secondary education system," said Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap, Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology.