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Ron Burnett

President and Vice-Chancellor, Emily Carr University of Art and Design


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New campus for Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. Can we envision an entirely new way of building classrooms and studios?

Emily Carr University of Art + Design has an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime – to build a university dedicated solely to art, media and design, constructed to showcase creative work and creative research. Our ambition is no less than to build an institution so extraordinary that it can accommodate the creativity of the human spirit in all its forms of expression. The challenge is that government standards, building constraints and financial limitations may not allow us to build a real representation of 21st century learning. What should classrooms look like today? How should creative studios function? What is the best layout for engaging learners in the adventures of learning?


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    Jul 27 2013: When I got my fine arts degree my school when through a transition and the department changed campuses. We went from an old crowded space to a brand new building. The new building was great and it had more facilities but I still remember with fondness the old space.

    In the old space the 4th year studios were in portables. Portables sure get a bad rap. Where's the architectural ingenuity in that? The atmosphere was great though, especially in that last year. They were getting removed! Anything goes! Students had their own codes to the doors, they were open 24 hours, and they had a good relationship with security. There was the odd party in the studios, the odd sleepover, people wrote on the walls, and nobody cared what happened to the building.

    The new space was great but that freedom never returned.

    Artists don't need well designed architecture, they need anarchy. They need freedom. Take all that money that you would use on some fancy building and use it for clean up every year. Give them a bare bones semi-industrial space and let them trash it if they want. Use the money you saved to repaint over the graffiti or whatever. Don't make them feel the building in precious or their respect for the space will interfere with their creativity.

    Don't give them an inspirational space, give them anarchy.
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      Jul 27 2013: Scott, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this wonderful comment. I agree completely. I told one of the people working on the project that I was interested in spaces of "indifferent conversation." By that I meant the serendipity of learning through spontaneous contact with people. We will build a space that is open and allows for any number of interactions and in any number of different ways. We are not into "clean" art spaces. They are always dirty, evidence of work being done or having been completed. We consider our walls to be spaces and places for art and for expression and will do so in the new campus. Money is one of our great constraints. Our operating budget is 1/5th the amount of sister institutions in the United States. But, that is also a strength because we have learned to make do with less and to make and create more. My hope is that with all the rules and regulations and government policies governing a project like this, that we will nevertheless be able to do as you say, give everyone and most importantly our students an inspirational space. Thanks again...
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      Jul 30 2013: I like that, what a wonderful concept!

      I’m not sure why but it triggers the notion of “Before I graduate I want to”

      P.S. I think taking (start and end of year) photos of the classrooms would make interesting historical records for school archives.

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