312 Main Street - Community engagement in the heart of the city

February 21, 2020

Last month, Simon Fraser University (SFU) celebrated the opening of its latest addition to the SFU Vancouver campus. Located at the corner of East Cordova and Main, 312 Main Street promises to bring communities together into a social and economic hub for the Downtown Eastside community. “Facilities Services has always believed that where there is a will, there is a way” says Joyce Chong, Director, Administration and Real Estate Services for the Facilities Services department. “We see potential at every turn and work hard to leverage existing resources into new opportunities for engagement and growth.”

Responsible for overseeing the University’s property and real estate transactions including space acquisition and leasing, Joyce worked closely with a variety of stakeholders over a number of months to finalize terms. Occupying approximately 5000 sq. ft on the third floor, the new space will be home to a number of community focused initiatives including the Community-Engaged Research initiative (CERi), SFU Public Square, and Lifelong Learning.

With the space now in hand, it fell to Augustin Tretinik, Project Manager at Facilities Services Vancouver Campus, to breathe new life into what was formerly the Vancouver Police Department. “My main goal for this project was to give the space a fresh look, to give it energy.” Renovations began in early 2019. Augustin says a lot of time was allocated to listening and incorporating the ideas of the stakeholders. “When we started, we asked a lot of questions. We knew we had to make a warm and inviting space and we gave our stakeholders lots of options and recommendations.”

In order to ensure the space had a natural environmental feel, Augustin and his team used a combination of glazing and natural wood throughout the space to bring the feeling of nature to the occupants. “We worked hard to make sure there was plenty of light and really, to bring a feeling of the outside inside the space.”

SFU President and Vice-Chancellor Andrew Petter recently noted that 312 Main Street will provide community members and groups with better access to SFU programs and resources, while making it easier for faculty, students and staff to benefit from the University’s initiatives and services. “It will provide new opportunities for faculty and students to undertake community-engaged research, to participate in community-based learning, and to work collaboratively with grassroots community organizations.”