Abbotsford, BC – The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) and the UFV Student Union Society (SUS) officially opened the university’s first Student Union Building (SUB) on September 8.
The leading edge $17.3 million, 46,700 square foot SUB represents the culmination of a collaborative design and construction effort that began in 2008. The SUB incorporates LEED Gold principles in an environmentally efficient design and houses a variety of student-focused services, clubs, restaurants, and spaces.
The Student Union Society oversees two thirds of the building space with administrative responsibility for the operation of the facility including room rental, booking, space allocation for clubs, and restaurant operations. The SUS offices are located on the first floor of the new complex.
UFV occupies one third of the building’s footprint and student-focused services including Advising, the Career Centre, Student Life, and Aboriginal Support Services are located in the new building.
“We’re very excited about the SUB because there has been no purely student-focused space on campus until now and this is going to be extremely student-focused. It will be a one-stop shop — students can meet, eat, hang out, and access services here,” SUS President Thomas Davies said. “We wanted to create a place that encourages student engagement and connections, and I think we have achieved it.”
UFV President Mark Evered said that the new SUB will inspire creativity and collaboration.
“Our students have guided the creation of a vibrant, engaging, environment that blends seamlessly the spaces for service, support, and learning. I have no doubt that this will become the academic social centre of our Abbotsford campus, the kind of setting that almost demands creative conversation and collaboration.”
CIVL Radio and the Cascade newspaper are well established in their new locations on the second floor. Like many of the offices in the complex, the walls in these areas are glass — offering a transparent view of the journalists and radio station personnel at work.
The SUB features two exciting new restaurants. The Fair Grounds coffee bar, located in the atrium on the first floor, offers ethically produced coffee, tea, and light snacks.
On the second floor, the new SUS-run restaurant, The Canoe, has a modern west-coast design and offers a wide variety of menu items. The Canoe is named after the large prow-like deck gracing the second floor of the new building and offers great views of the campus green. The namesake deck and a private room can both be booked for events. The Canoe will also offer catering for events within the SUB.
Craig Toews, UFV Executive Director of Campus Planning and Resource Development, has been working with SUS on this project since 2008, and is very pleased to see this long-anticipated project come to fruition.
“This is a great example of cooperation, building on our great relationship with SUS leadership,” he said. “We started brainstorming with student focus groups in 2008. This new building will contribute to a vibrant and enhanced student experience.”
The building was financed on a cost-shared basis with UFV students contributing $10 million in funding through a $35 per semester fee and the university providing the balance of funding.
Toews noted that other universities are looking with interest into the innovative self-financing model for the project, which was achieved without government funding and with UFV not incurring debt.
The architects for the project were Chernoff Thompson, and the building contractor was Mierau Contractors. Envision Financial was the funding partner for the new building, and KPMG provided advisory assistance.
SUS Executive Director Meghan McDonald is eager to welcome the UFV community to the new SUB. She says that everyone is welcome to enjoy the amenities the SUB provides.
“The new SUB is student-focused, but we really want to encourage faculty, staff, administration, and alumni to frequent the space,” she emphasized. “This is meant to be a community-building space, where all of UFV can come together. The SUB features many bright, open, and flexible spaces. We want the whole SUB to be thought of as an inviting ‘campus living room’ that everyone can enjoy.” McDonald encourages departments to consider booking SUB spaces for meetings and events.
If you are interested in learning more about the Student Union Building and the rooms and services that can be booked through the Student Union Society, contact SUS Executive Director Meghan McDonald at [email protected].
The SUB is located at the southwest corner of campus, just west of the Envision Athletic Centre.