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Ryan Walker

U of S building consensus for architecture school

SASKATOON - The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is part of a province-wide collective examining the feasibility of starting a School of Architecture in Saskatchewan.

"Saskatchewan is the only province west of the Maritimes without a school of architecture," said Ryan Walker, associate professor of regional and urban planning at the U of S. "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."

Walker, a member of the Saskatchewan School of Architecture Initiative along with representatives of various allied academic disciplines and the Saskatchewan Association of Architects, said the first step in the process is to consult with a wide range of stakeholders, from the campus community to members of the architecture, development, construction and design industries, to the general public and other interested parties.

"We began examining the creation of a program in architecture in 2008," explained Walker, adding that as part of the initial phase of enquiry, a sample academic program was created. "Where we are at today is exploring the idea that if we had a School of Architecture in Saskatchewan, what would it look like?"

The provincial economic impact of the program, he continued, was studied in detail and the initiative was included in the university's Operations Forecast submitted to government.

"The university has since provided seed funding for the creation of the position of project director and the Saskatchewan Association of Architects provided matching seed funding," he said.

Walker added a program of architecture in Saskatchewan would address a number of issues.

"Saskatchewan has the second lowest provincial ratio of resident architects per capita in Canada, at about 100 architects per million people, compared to the national average of over 400 per million," Walker said. "There is, by this measure, a current shortage of about 300 architects in the province."

There is also a nation-wide shortage of available spaces in architecture programs in Canada.

"There is a well-documented demand for architectural education in Canada and in Saskatchewan," Walker said. "In recent years the number of applicants to schools of architecture nation-wide has exceeded the number of available spaces by a ratio of more than 10:1.

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

Colin Ripley, of the architectural firm RVTR and a professor in the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University, was selected to lead the initiative and consultation process which will kick off with three open houses in early February.

Media are invited to attend the following open houses:

Open House Consultation with the University Community
For all faculty, students, staff and other interested University of Saskatchewan community members.
Feb. 4, 2-5 pm
Gordon Snelgrove Gallery
Murray Building
University of Saskatchewan


Open House Consultation with the Architecture Profession
For all members of the architecture, development, construction and design industries.
Feb. 4, 6-9 pm
Gordon Snelgrove Gallery
Murray Building
University of Saskatchewan


Open House Consultation with the Saskatchewan Community
For all members of the Saskatchewan community and interested parties.
Feb. 6, 1-4 pm
Storefront at The Two Twenty
224 20th Street West


For more information, please visit http://www.arch.usask.ca/

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For more information, contact:
James Shewaga
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan
306-966-1851
james.shewaga@usask.ca
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