Gordon Oakes-Red Bear centre ready to go to tender

There was a round of applause at University Council Sept. 20 when President Ilene Busch-Vishniac announced that the Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre project is about to go to tender.

By Colleen MacPherson

The process of collecting bids for construction of the centre should begin within the next two weeks, she said. If the resulting bids fall within the expected cost range, "we will have the shovel in the ground before the ground freezes."

The university announced on Oct. 4, 2011 that it would proceed with the project which has languished on the institution's building wish list for years. The Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre will be built in Wiggins Court between the Arts Tower and the Murray Library. Its 1,884 square metres will accommodate the offices of the Indigenous Students' Council and the Aboriginal Students' Centre with additional space for learning and ceremonies. At the time it was announced, the project costs were estimated to be in the range of $10 million although the final budget had not been set.

On May 9 this year, the plans for the building were unveiled. The project architect, Douglas Cardinal, shared his design for a state-of-the-art facility for lectures, celebrations and presentations as a way of promoting Indigenous culture. While providing amenities and resources for Aboriginal students at the U of S, the centre will also serve as a space for all students, staff and faculty to gather.

In designing the building, Cardinal, who is of Métis and Blackfoot heritage, drew on his personal philosophies about sustainability, green buildings and ecological design in community planning. Among the notable buildings Cardinal has designed are the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec, the First Nations University of Canada in Regina and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. n