UW unveils new Stratford campus

Oct 19, 2012 · News · By Eduardo Ramirez

Courtesy University of Waterloo

After six years of waiting, the University of Waterloo finally inaugurated its futuristic campus located in the City of Stratford, Ontario. It is part of the Faculty of Arts and the central areas of study include digital media and global enterprise focusing in the study of business as well as covering the disciplines of political science, economics, history and culture. UW Stratford campus permanent location is at 125 St. Patrick Street.

This event took over half a decade to unfold as the initial memorandum of agreement was signed by Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson, the general director of the Stratford Festival Antoni Cimolino, and David Johnston, then-president of the University of Waterloo. Six years ago the present site was secured in January 2010 due to an agreement between the University of Waterloo and the City of Stratford.

The new campus is 45,000 square-feet, and three-storey high building includes many amenities, such as digital media labs, editing rooms, a vast amount of open collaboration spaces. One of the most technological features of the new building is a three-storey MicroTile wall which is the largest installation of its kind in Canada. The MicroTile wall displays student content on 150 linked MicroTiles. The MicroTile wall can be seen from all three floors inside the building, as well as from across the street.

 “The grand opening today of the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus marks the culmination of a significant investment in making this building and campus a reality,” said UW President Feridun Hamdullahpur.

The campus’s new location was enabled through the support of the Ontario government and the City of Stratford, each investing $10 million for a total $20 million for the building’s construction. The city’s full commitment to the project included the additional expenditure of $4.5 million for the land purchase.

“We are very proud of the unique partnership between the university, various levels of government, and the private sector that mobilized a great vision and brought us all to this important occasion,” said Hamdullahpur.

The building was designed by the Canadian architectural firm ZAS Architects and built by Bondfield Construction over the last 18 months. The operating costs for programs at the Stratford campus were contributed by the federal government along with $10 million in funding from OpenText, Canada’s largest software company.

The campus is now home to more than 90 undergraduate students in the Global Business and Digital Arts program, and 19 graduate students in the Master of Digital Experience Innovation program.

“Establishing a brand new curriculum that is imporant for Canada’s future success in digital media on an international playing field,” said Ginny Dybenko, executive director of the Stratford campus.

Today the graduate students now have a location they can call home.

“We initiated our graduate program last year in a temporary location. This fall, we launched our undergraduate program in our new building with overwhelming success,” said Dybenko.

The University of Waterloo responded well to the idea of a new campus when the mayor posed the question at an economic conference in 2006. University President David Johnston (now Governor General of Canada) was so intrigued then that he rode in a car with the mayor and toured the city scouting out possible sites. The university has plans to build a residence in Stratford, while the city is looking at student housing options.

Other projects in the works include an accelerator centre in Stratford’s core, projects with industry leaders, and working with the Stratford Festival.

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