Galt architecture campus proposes $24 million expansion

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The University of Waterloo has proposed an expansion to the architecture campus located in downtown Galt.


School officials are currently seeking $24 million in funds to expand the campus by another 64,000 sq. ft. The expansion will be built across the street from the existing campus, in space currently occupied by a parking lot.


The City of Cambridge has been officially asked for $8 million, and the remaining funds are expected to come from the provincial and federal governments in equal parts.


The department of architecture will be offering more than just extra space to future architecture students. The campus will be adding a bachelors and masters program in interactive design, which will combine industrial design, communication design, and interaction design.


Pam Wolf, Cambridge city councillor, spoke in favour of the project, saying, “Students bring a creative energy to the downtown core … with the spontaneous things that they do.”


Entrepreneurial tech hub Communitech is expected to partner with UW to build an incubator on campus. Communitech voiced its support for the expansion, but otherwise declined to comment.


Former director of the school Rick Haldenby said that Cambridge is falling behind in the promotion of the digital economy when compared to Kitchener and Waterloo.


Wolf said, “It’s definitely something we need to work on and this would be an ideal way to do it.”


The Cambridge city council is poised to accept UW’s application, hoping that the expansion will encourage businesses and spinoffs to develop in Cambridge, with the pool of Cambridge-based co-op students and graduates to draw from.


A report estimates that the program could produce six to 10 spinoffs per year, creating jobs for 700 to 1000 people after five years.


The architecture school has greatly impacted some of the city’s newest buildings, such as the Dunfield Theatre and the Preston and Hespeler libraries.


“[The city uses] the students and the faculty on a lot of city projects, it’s a good partnership,” said Wolf. “Students have been instrumental in helping the affordable housing committee show developers what can be done with buildings.”


The council hopes that the expansion will bring new life to the downtown core, attracting more residents, students, and visitors to the newly rejuvenated downtown Galt.


The project is currently reliant on securing government funds, but UW hopes they will be able to accept students to the new program as early as Fall 2016.
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