U of A expands downtown

<p>After being left vacant for years, the old Hudson’s Bay Building on Jasper Ave. suddenly has new life as a hub for thousands of university students.</p>

 

Old Bay building transformed into Enterprise Square


 

 

Ian Jackson/for metro edmonton

 

William Tomison, played by Tom Long, who is credited with founding Edmonton for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1795, offers an HBC blanket to University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera yesterday. The gesture was part of the official opening of the University’s Enterprise Square, a new facility built inside the old Bay building on Jasper Avenue.



After being left vacant for years, the old Hudson’s Bay Building on Jasper Ave. suddenly has new life as a hub for thousands of university students.



The University of Alberta has transformed the historical building into a state-of-the-art learning facility called Enterprise Square that officials say will revitalize the city’s downtown core.



"We envision a new period of partnership-building, and expect that Enterprise Square will be the site of many productive and inventive relationships with various community organizations," said U of A president Indria Samarasekera in officially opening the centre yesterday.



Mayor Stephen Mandel says the new learning centre will serve as a "catalyst" for the downtown area.



"When the book is written about what this will mean to downtown, it will increase rental office space and it will add vibrancy," he said. "This will add a creative genius to downtown — something that has never been seen before."



When the post-secondary school was first built 100 years ago in Strathcona, Edmonton residents were angry that the university was built across the river, Samarasekera said.



"The university has finally crossed the river and found a place in the heart of the city," she said.



The university took many steps to preserve the building’s history and it’s expected that 600 people will work at the square: half from the university and half employed by additional tenants.



The final price tag for the building’s retrofit is over $86 million.




jeff.cummings@metronews.ca



Jeff Cummings/Metro Edmonton


















many served




  • The university’s faculty by extension will have the largest presence on the site, serving more than 7,000 students each semester.