Described by the Vancouver Sun as the “Intellectual Heart of the City,” Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver campus was the result of a 10-year project the university undertook that changed the landscape of urban education in downtown Vancouver. The university had pioneered continuing education in the city in the early 1980s with the launch of a storefront centre, but the small space was unable to meet the public's demands.
“It was clear there was need for a downtown university centre,” said Dr. Warren Gill, then SFU’s vice-president, university relations, and an urban geographer who played a key role along with SFU President Emeritus Jack Blaney in the development of SFU’s downtown presence. “Simon Fraser knew it had to establish the facility through private sector support.”
After years of planning, SFU achieved Blaney and Gill’s vision and officially opened a rebuilt and revitalized 1927 Spencer building at 515 West Hastings Street on May 5, 1989, as the official home of SFU’s Vancouver campus in the Harbour Centre complex.
In 2001, SFU Vancouver expanded with the addition of the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue. The Centre was created within a heritage bank building at 580 West Hastings Street and is named after a longtime friend of SFU. The building was a gift to the university from Peter Eng, whose company developed the adjacent hotel, residential and retail complex.
In 2002, SFU received an incredibly generous donation from Joseph and Rosalie Segal, the gift of a 1916 heritage building located at the corner of Granville and Pender, in the heart of the city’s financial district. A former Bank of Montreal building, it was renamed the Segal Graduate School of Business and is home for SFU’s Beedie School of Business’ graduate programs.
In September of 2010, SFU proudly opened the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at the historic Woodward’s site at 149 West Hastings Street. With its completion, Simon Fraser committed approximately $150 million to the establishment and improvement of university facilities in downtown Vancouver. This has been made possible through the generosity of individuals, organizations, corporations and all levels of government.
The Goldcorp Centre for the Arts is new home for SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts as well as the SFU Woodward’s Cultural and Community Program unit, which includes the Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Located in the heart of the city, the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts is home to stunning cultural and multipurpose facilities and has created many new partnerships within the city’s cultural fabric.
In September of 2011, the Bill Reid Foundation gifted its entire collection of Northwest Coast art, worth more than $10 million and consisting of 158 works (including 112 masterworks by Bill Reid) to Simon Fraser University.
In return, SFU will contract the Bill Reid Foundation to continue to manage the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, located on 639 Hornby Street in downtown Vancouver. The building also houses SFU's Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Art Studies.
The Vancouver campus, now over 385,000 square feet has expanded several times to add instructional and office space.
The campus currently serves over 70,000 people annually. Approximately 10,000 are students enrolled in credit and non-credit courses. In addition to leading edge research programs, a wide and varying range of undergraduate courses are offered each semester. Professional graduate degrees are available in business, gerontology, international studies, liberal studies, public policy, publishing and urban studies. A unique program in liberal and business studies offers the opportunity for degree completion for those already in the work force. Thousands of other individuals, groups and companies attend SFU conferences, lectures, performances and exhibitions or are involved in courses, seminars and meetings organized externally, but held at SFU Vancouver.