Colin Tennent
Colin Tennent

Drafting blueprints

The U of S has been working on bringing a school of archi­tecture to its campus for nearly a decade. Members of the university community and the Saskatchewan Association of Architects are finally starting to feel like that work might be coming to fruition.

University Architect Colin Tennent, an original member of the group that first examined the feasibility of such a school, has a personal interest in seeing the program brought to campus— but he is just as excited to see what the idea could hold for Saskatoon and the province of Saskatchewan as a whole.

"Much of city architec­ture can be contentious, so the influence of a school of archi­tecture can be quite profound— and particularly in a city the size of Saskatoon," Tennent said.

The idea of an architecture program at the U of S has been looked at several times, with options explored as far back as 2008, without any concrete movement. What has changed now, Tennent said, is the level preparation being put toward potentially proposing the idea in earnest.

The U of S has brought in Colin Ripley, chair of the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University, to help oversee development on plans for a proposal to univer­sity administration.

A series of open houses have also been planned throughout February and March, which Tennent hopes will bring together academics, profes­sionals and members of the public under a single roof to shed light on the greater commu­nity's thoughts on a school of architecture on campus.

"It's an opportunity for a really wide-ranging discourse on the topic. It's an exciting time, and it's the kind of thing that really stimulates a lot of debate," Tennent said.

Ryan Walker, associate professor of regional and urban planning, who was instrumental at the outset of this project, said the addition of an architectural program is one that could help both usher more money into the province and help keep Saskatchewan students from looking elsewhere for their education.

"Saskatchewan is the only province west of the Maritimes without a school of architec­ture," Walker said.

"The loss of potential students to out-of-province programs and the contracting of services to out-of-province firms are limiting both cultural development and economic growth."

Should the school become a reality, Walker said he thought it had much potential for growth in Saskatoon.

"Schools of architecture are often catalysts for creating a strong design culture in cities, which enhances urban quality of life and the creative economy," said Walker.

Tennent echoed Walker's statements, adding that he personally believes placement in Saskatoon's downtown core could prove most beneficial.

"The ability of energetic, bright students with great ideas making decisions about the downtown can be breath­taking," Tennent said.

"We're seeing more and more people from outside of the province attracted here because of business opportunities, and they and their families come here from metropolitan areas looking for the kind of excite­ment they left behind. The more we can do to make this a more vibrant, attractive city, the better off we're going to be."

Architecture is an extensive discipline that would flourish with diverse supports, said Tennent, adding that he sees the Colleges of Engineering, Arts and Science, Law and Edwards School of Business as areas that could naturally work together with such a program.

"Architecture can be very effective in drawing together collaborators who can make a big difference," he said.

Open House consultation with the university community is set for Feb. 4 from 2–5pm at the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery.

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