UBC Okanagan’s planned downtown Kelowna campus will feature more than 80,000 square feet of new space, allowing for the university’s continued growth.
University officials announced preliminary plans for the new campus, set to be located at the former Kelowna Daily Courier location (550 Doyle Avenue), during a virtual open house on Wednesday, Jan. 20. The plans have been in motion since June 2020, when UBCO purchased the land.
The complex is set to consist of three towers, one of which will be occupied by the university. That building features 80,000 square feet specifically for the university, with another 15,000 for university partners. The other two towers will be operated by the project’s developer Mission Group, with one set to be a commercial tower and the other set to be residential.
University focused housing will also be available on the top floors of the UBCO building.
The expansion to downtown is expected to bring with it a lot of students from the existing campus, with several health-and arts-based programs to be moved there. Asked what they would do with the freed-up space, UBCO representatives said the university is growing fast and already working in tight quarters. The expansion would ease the density in the main campus, allowing other programs to move into vacated buildings.
The new campus will also be home to an art gallery, something not present on the current UBCO campus despite the university’s more than 700 pieces of art in its collection.
Despite his excitement over the new art gallery, saying that it brings the university to the 21st century and onto the world stage, dean of the faculty of arts and social sciences Bryce Traister said he hoped a new community theatre would be part of the build. Now, his hope is that the art gallery will encourage the city to pursue more cultural amenities, including the redevelopment of the Kelowna Community Theatre, built in the 1960s for a Kelowna that looked much different than today.
Other notables mentioned in the open house were plans for a wine tasting program and a “maker space,” where students will have access to several technologies and tools to bring their projects to life.
Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2022 with completion anticipated by the fall 2024 semester.
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