York University and the Schulich School of Business officially opened a new building on Jan. 10, designed to bring industry into the classroom and to stimulate interdisciplinary research in fields ranging from business ethics and big data to global enterprise and real estate and infrastructure.
The Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building will accommodate academic program growth, modern research facilities and space for study and socializing. Its distinctive design, by Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, makes it one of the most environmentally sustainable and socially responsible academic buildings in North America.
The new building stands near the main entrance of York’s Keele Campus, next to the TTC’s York University Station. Attached to Schulich’s existing complex, the facility is named in honour of longtime Schulich supporters Rob and Cheryl McEwen, who have donated $8 million to the University toward this expansion of Schulich’s facilities.
Rob and Cheryl McEwen were recognized for their transformational donation during the official opening event, and shared a few words with the more than 150 people in attendance.
“A building makes a statement and architecture communicates that statement very, very loudly and clearly,” said Rob McEwen. “Here we are in a building that’s at the front door of York University. So, what is it saying? It’s saying that this school is innovative, it’s imaginative, it is responsible to the environment, it is showing the future.”
Cheryl McEwen spoke to the importance of research, saying, “you cannot change the future without investing in research.
“We hope that this building will be the hub of Canada’s future business leaders, to enable Canada to reach its full potential,” she said.
The $50-million project received $15 million in funding from the Government of Canada through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, which is dedicated to modernizing research and commercialization facilities, improving their environmental sustainability and promoting economic activity. The project was also supported with $35 million from Schulich’s Leading Change fundraising campaign, including the McEwen donation and York University.
Also speaking to the importance of investing in research was guest David Lametti, parliamentary secretary to the federal minister of innovation, science and economic development. Lametti, an academic on sabbatical, said it’s important to recognize the leadership, partnerships and philanthropy that drives research forward.
“Investments like today’s in York’s Schulich School of Business to expand its facilities are essential to help Canada excel in academia and research,” he said. “By improving the infrastructure of this building, we improve access to services and programs to Canadians.”
Guest speakers also included Rhonda Lenton, York University president and vice-chancellor; Dezsö J. Horváth, dean of the Schulich School of Business; Paul Tsaparis, chair of York University’s Board of Governors; and the event’s master of ceremonies, James Prince, president of the Schulich Graduate Business Council.
“The Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building is an exciting addition to York University and to the Schulich School of Business, which consistently ranks among Canada’s leading business schools,” said Lenton. “This new hub for academic and business collaboration will offer York students tremendous new research and experiential education opportunities, so they are better equipped for the challenges of a rapidly changing world.”
The 67,000-square-foot building is one of the first to use the principles of thermally active building systems to achieve LEED Gold certification. A core feature of the environmentally responsible design is a dramatic glass solar chimney that rises 27 metres and provides passive natural ventilation for the entire building.
Schulich’s expanding academic and research agenda is reflected in the design of the project, which will house the Research Office for the internationally recognized business school as well as four Centres of Excellence in areas of management education in which Schulich already excels. Three of these have been established: the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business; the Schulich Centre for Global Enterprise; and the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate & Infrastructure.
“The Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building will play an important role in helping to keep our school at the forefront of management education and research,” said Horváth. He also noted that more than 42 rooms and spaces in the new facility are named after Schulich alumni who continue to support the school.
A newly developed Centre of Excellence in Business Analytics & Artificial Intelligence is envisioned as a leading hub for business and academic collaboration, experiential education and research. The centre incorporates the Deloitte Cognitive Analytics & Visualization Lab, which is already exploring advances in predictive analytics, natural language processing, machine learning, analytics design and visualization, and data-based storytelling.
At the core of the building is a three-storey atrium built to provide opportunities for meetings between students, professors, researchers, staff and visitors. Classrooms and seminar rooms on the main floor, and lounges and seminar rooms on upper floors, surround the atrium, allowing for greater interaction and the stimulating exchange of ideas.