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Learn more about the rich history of each of the nine sites that make up SFU's Vancouver campus.
1989: Harbour Centre
Described by the Vancouver Sun as the “Intellectual Heart of the City,” Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Vancouver campus was the end of a 10-year project and the beginning of a new era in urban education in the city. The university pioneered continuing education in the city in the early 1980s with a modest storefront centre (“Learn How on Howe!”), but it became obvious that the demand was bigger than the space available.
“It was clear there was need for a downtown university centre,” said Dr. Warren Gill, then SFU’s vice-president, university relations and an urban geographer who played a key role along with SFU President Emeritus, Jack Blaney, in the development of SFU’s downtown presence. “Simon Fraser knew it had to establish the facility through private sector support.”
After years of planning, SFU achieved Blaney and Gill’s vision and officially opened a rebuilt and revitalized 1927 Spencer building at 515 West Hastings Street on May 5, 1989, as the official home of SFU’s Vancouver campus in the Harbour Centre complex.
1993: 611 Alexander Visual Art Studios
SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts began using the 611 Alexander Street space as a Visual Art studio and classroom for the undergraduate program and as a teaching and studio space for the MFA program in 1993. The large open spaces and extra high ceilings are ideally suited to students’ creative projects and assignments.
The 611 Alexander Street space plays a crucial role in SCA program delivery and use of the space has intensified since the SCA moved downtown to the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts building at SFU Woodward’s.
2000: Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue
Conceived as a hub for dialogue and engagement, the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue opened in 2000 in a refurbished heritage bank building at 580 West Hastings Street. This centre, with its circular Asia Pacific Hall, has become Vancouver’s premier meeting space and plays an important role in removing barriers to community conversation and participation. Since its opening, the centre has hosted thousands of local, national and international dialogues and gatherings.
2002: Segal Graduate School of Business
The downtown campus expanded in 2002 with the opening of the Segal Graduate School of Business at Granville and Pender. Thanks to the generosity of Joseph and Rosalie Segal, the iconic 1916 heritage building in the heart of the city’s financial district has been the home for graduate programs in the SFU Beedie School of Business. A remarkable blend of old-world architecture and new-age technology, it also serves as a popular community venue where academia and business can meet, collaborate and network.
2010: Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
The campus celebrated another milestone in 2010 with the opening of the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at the historic Woodward’s site at 149 West Hastings Street. Located in the heart of the city, the centre is a stunning cultural, multipurpose and performance facility that has woven itself into the cultural fabric of the city. The Goldcorp Centre for the Arts is home to SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, the Audain Gallery, SFU Woodward's Cultural Programs, and the Vancity Office of Community Engagement.
2011: SFU Collection at Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
In September 2011, the Bill Reid Foundation gifted its entire collection of Northwest Coast art, worth more than $10 million and consisting of 158 works (including 112 masterworks by Bill Reid) to Simon Fraser University.
In return, SFU contracted the Bill Reid Foundation to manage the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, located at 639 Hornby Street in downtown Vancouver. The building also houses SFU's Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Art Studies.
2016: Charles Chang Innovation Centre & VentureLabs®
In 2016, the footprint of SFU's Vancouver campus expanded significantly, with two new facilities opening. The first was the Charles Chang Innovation Centre at 308 West Hastings Street, which supports entrepreneurship, innovation, social impact and management education. It is home to RADIUS—SFU's social innovation lab and venture incubator—and to the Change Lab, an in-depth experiential program that empowers student changemakers. SFU's first graduate residence for students occupies several floors above the centre.
The second was the new SFU VentureLabs space in the tower adjacent to SFU's Vancouver campus Harbour Centre building at 555 West Hastings Street. SFU VentureLabs is a world-class business accelerator where students, faculty, and community partners develop enterprising solutions to social, economic, and technological challenges.
Both facilities are important elements in SFU Innovates, the university's strategic plan to support social innovation and entrepreneurship, wherein students, faculty and community partners develop enterprising solutions to social, economic and technological challenges. These two programs further advance SFU's status as the leading engaged university in the dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting edge research and far-reaching community engagement.
2019: 312 Main
Built in 1953, 312 Main is the former home of the Vancouver Police Department. Embedded in the heart of Vancouver’s inner city at Cordova and Main, 312 Main has been transformed from a police headquarters into an inclusive community hub, co-location space for community organizations focusing on social and environmental justice, and workspace for local changemakers. The university’s presence at 312 Main includes the 312 Knowledge Mobilization project, SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, SFU's Community-Engaged Research Initiative (CERi), SFU Public Square and a division of SFU's Lifelong Learning department.
Present: Rich History, Vibrant Future
From a small storefront space on Howe Street in the early 1980s to a pervasive, ubiquitous presence across the educational precinct downtown, SFU Vancouver's presence in and impact on the city of Vancouver has increased dramatically. SFU's footprint downtown is spread over nine facilities with over half a million square feet of teaching, learning, research and community engagement space.
SFU Vancouver serves thousands of credit and non-credit students and hosts a variety of engagement events for staff, faculty, students, conference clientele and visitors annually. In addition to leading-edge research programs, a wide and varying range of undergraduate courses are offered each semester. Professional graduate degrees are available in business, gerontology, international studies, liberal studies, public policy, publishing and urban studies. A unique program in liberal and business studies offers the opportunity for degree completion for those already in the work force. Thousands of other individuals, groups and companies attend SFU conferences, lectures, performances and exhibitions or are involved in courses, seminars and meetings organized externally, but held at SFU Vancouver.