Emily Carr University of Art + Design

“The movement of people, the north facing windows, the four major atria, which reach from the fourth floor to the first floor, all encourage creative practitioners to feel comfortable with the challenges of engaged creativity.”

Dr. Ron Burnett, former President of Emily Carr University of Art and Design

The Emily Carr University of Art + Design Campus is a purpose-built facility designed to create a world-class facility for learning and production in the arts. Relocating from Granville Island to the burgeoning False Creek Flats Arts Precinct, the building-as-campus was designed and delivered in the context of a P3 process.

The building is designed to reinforce connections, transparency and creative crosspollination. A wide central concourse links all major spaces of the campus horizontally and is punctuated by a series of atria that bring in abundant natural light and visually connect disciplines vertically. The atria also create intensive interchanges where informal gathering, making and remaking, and creative display give full expression to the university’s approach to multidisciplinary arts learning. Departments are located along these interconnected spaces to maximize efficiencies and affinities between disciplines, and take advantage of the building’s site context, where painting studios enjoy north-facing light in lofty top-floor studios and sculpture and ceramics are in proximity to outdoor working and display environments.

The building skin combines glass and white metal panels to convey the possibilities of a blank canvas writ large. Backpainted glass spandrel panels carry a sequence of colours, expressing the progression and transition of the artistic colour palette over the namesake painter’s career.

Cutting-edge technology allows for integrated displays for learning and interaction. Public programming on a large digital screen illuminates and activates the exterior art plaza and invites the public to engage with the work of students and faculty. Active participation by a vibrant Aboriginal community is fostered in spaces that embrace traditional and contemporary Aboriginal design elements in the architectural tradition of a Coast Salish longhouse. The Indigenous-designed double doors for the Aboriginal Gathering Place, the 400-seat Lecture Theatre and other important spaces symbolize the university’s comprehensive commitment to Indigenous arts programming. The doors seem identical, but testify to the constant evolution of arts production – one is hand-carved, while the other is produced through advanced computer and robot production technology.

This purpose-built facility anchors the regeneration of an industrial zone and is a catalyst for its redevelopment and connection with the city.

Location Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Client EllisDon
Completion 05/09/2017
Sustainability LEED Gold Certified


In Joint Venture with Chernoff Thompson Architects
Photography Tom Arban and Ema Peter


Awards See all project awards
2016 American Society of Architectural Illustrators – Award of Excellence, Formal Rendering
Team See full project team
Karel Brozik
Jenna Chapman
Jessica Cheung
Joshua Cohen
Tura Cousins-Wilson
Steve Culver
Martin Davidson
Mehdi Ghiyaei
Krister Holmes
Ana Maria Llanos
Jeffrey Mitchell
Mitch Popa
Donald Schmitt
Michael Treacy
Jose Trinidad
Michael Waring
Gary Watson