VIU invites community to grand opening of Cowichan Campus Sept. 22

September 15, 2011 - 5:30am

Residents in the Cowichan Valley region are invited to celebrate the grand opening of Vancouver Island University’s new Cowichan Campus on Sept. 22.

“Everyone is welcome to come visit our spectacular new facility,” said Campus Principal Maria Lauridsen. “Our grand opening also marks VIU’s 75th anniversary celebration. Cowichan Campus has been part of VIU’s history for more than four decades.

“We invite everyone – students, parents, alumni, community members, business owners and First Nations groups - to help us celebrate this special day.”

The grand opening begins at 11 am at the new Cowichan Campus, located in the heart of Duncan at 2011 University Way. Festivities include First Nations dancers, speeches, a ribbon and cake-cutting ceremony, campus tours and community barbecue.

The $29-million Cowichan Campus is the largest funded capital project undertaken by VIU. It is also one of the most sustainable facilities on Vancouver Island, according to Ric Kelm, VIU’s Executive Director of Infrastructure and Ancillary Services.

The three-storey facility is part of Cowichan Place, a multi-functional complex that incorporates VIU, the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, School District 79 offices and Island Savings Centre - home to the 710-seat Cowichan Community Theatre, a gymnastics centre, dance studios, Vancouver Island Regional Library and arena.

“Cowichan Place is fast-becoming a focal point for education, recreation and culture in the Cowichan Valley,” said Lauridsen. “This project has strengthened our relationships with our Cowichan Place Partners and First Nations groups. They have all played a significant role in the development of this new facility along with our funding partners, the provincial and federal governments. Students who have started the fall semester absolutely love their new learning environment.”

Cowichan Campus offers a wide range of first and second-year university courses, applied career, technical, vocational programs, and high school upgrading.

The new campus features state-of-the art health and science labs, computer labs and several multipurpose classrooms, a 110-seat lecture theatre, cafeteria and kitchen, library commons, and many inviting areas for students to gather and study. Designed by Shiv Garyali, principal of Garyali Architect Inc. of Victoria, the building maximizes the use of natural light, wood beams, glass panels, attractive fixtures and tiles.

“It’s a warm, welcoming facility for employees, students and the entire community,” added Kelm.

The architect and design team worked closely with local First Nations groups to understand their needs and culture. The Coast Salish ‘welcome figures’ and thunderbird totem gracing the entrance of the new campus are important symbols of the strong relationships with First Nations communities that have enriched Vancouver Island University throughout its history, Lauridsen said.

“Master carver Harold Joe has done a wonderful job bringing new life to these sacred totems that he first carved for the Cowichan Campus in 1987. He reburished the totems to prepare them for the move from the old campus to the new campus.

“The totems and a beautifully carved Coast Salish canoe donated to our campus by the Cowichan Tribes are a fitting reminder of our West Coast traditions and the strong partnerships with First Nations communities that will continue long into the future.”

Other notable design features include a rooftop garden known as a ‘green roof’, which includes walking paths, study areas and natural vegetation. The facility also has a ‘blue roof’ which refers to a rainwater collection system to irrigate the entire campus grounds, a geo-exchange heating and cooling system, solar hot water heating panels, and recycling and composting systems for students and staff.

VIU is applying for a LEED* (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. LEED is a rating system that recognizes performance in sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

Lauridsen said the new campus improves access to education for students in the region and provides tremendous potential for growth in all areas of programming.

Cowichan Place Partners are proud supporters of VIU and its new campus. To commemorate the opening, Island Savings Centre will offer a free skate session (and prizes) to community members from noon to 1:50 pm on Sept. 22. There will also be tours of the Cowichan Aquatic Centre and Island Savings Centre from 2 to 3 pm.

For further information about VIU’s Cowichan Campus, visit www.viu/


What: Grand opening of the new Cowichan Campus and VIU’s 75th anniversary celebration

When: Thurs. Sept. 22, 11 am to 3 pm

Where: Cowichan Campus, 2011 University Way, Duncan.

Program: 11 am - speeches and an official welcoming

12 noon – cake cutting and community barbecue

1:30 – 3 pm – campus tours

For more information:

Maria Lauridsen, Regional Campus Principal


Driving instructions to the new campus:

Heading South from Nanaimo

As you enter the city of Duncan on the Trans Canada Hwy turn right onto James Street, continue past the Cowichan Community Centre, turn right onto Duncan Street and then turn right onto University Way. Parking is available in the lot to your left.

Heading North from Victoria

As you are about to exit the city of Duncan on the Trans Canada Hwy turn left onto James Street, continue past the Cowichan Community Centre, turn right onto Duncan Street, turn right onto University Way. Parking is available in the lot to your left.

Tags: In the Community

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