A building intended for creative professionals can be one of the most challenging to create – to break the mould, push the limits and yet, suit the diverse needs of all its end users. This was the mandate of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s new design school, a pedestrian-oriented campus for innovation in the fashion, interior, graphic and product design industries.

Project Essentials

  • LocationRichmond, BC
  • ClientKwantlen Polytechnic University
  • ArchitectKPMB Architects and Public Design
  • Size70,000 ft² (6,503 m²)
  • BudgetC$36 million
  • Sustainable FeaturesLEED Gold

Compounding this mandate was a challenging site – its proximity to the Fraser River Delta meant the design team was constrained by a high water table, infirm soils, and seismic conditions. Any structural solution would need to perform “like a ship” – remaining light, but rigid.


To meet these challenges, Fast + Epp engineered a glulam post and beam frame with exposed cast in place concrete cores. Concrete-metal composite decking spans over the glulam frame, with much of the buildings electrical systems integrated into it.

The new building frames a central green space, creating spaces for study, socializing and gathering. A highly-visible entry links to the Lansdowne Canada Line Station (another of Fast + Epp’s projects), drawing students and visitors into the highly-transparent campus. Upper floors are designated for event and conference spaces, and a testing lab, with advanced technology such as laser cutters, 3D printers and ultrasonic welders.