Pre-construction will start this summer on MacEwan University’s new School of Business, after the Alberta government announced $125 million for the project in February as part of its 2023 budget.
The seven-storey, 375,000-square foot facility will help the downtown university grow its capacity by one third by 2030.
“MacEwan has aspirations to grow, and we need to grow because Alberta is screaming for talent,” says university president Dr. Annette Trimbee.
“We’re very grateful and we’re very excited.”
The School of Business will face north on the corner of 109th Street and 105th Avenue, adjacent to the Centre of Sports and Wellness building. It will include 30 classrooms, 20 collaboration spaces, 15 study spaces, a simulated trading floor, and labs equipped with artificial intelligence and augmented reality technologies.
Trimbee says the new building — designed by GEC Architecture — will be beautiful and functional, with “exceptional light and views.” The open architectural concept, with abundant natural light, focuses on the idea of exchange – serving to connect the city and the campus.
“My favourite feature is the prominent northwest entrance that is double height. It demonstrates our connection to the community, particularly our neighbours in the north — both adjacent and afar,” she says.
GEC Architecture also designed NAIT’s Productivity and Innovation Centre.
The $190-million facility is part of MacEwan’s 10-year strategic vision, which includes a plan to grow by five per cent each year for the next 10 years – expanding from 20,000 students to 30,000 by 2030. The School of Business itself will hold 7,500 students.
The university plans to raise $25 million through the MacEwan Means Business capital campaign it launched last October, and cover the rest of the cost by tapping into reserves and selling assets.
The school is currently almost at capacity and Trimbee expects interest in post-secondary enrolment to keep growing in the near future, due to Alberta’s teenage “demographic bulge.”
According to Alberta government open data from 2019, the province expects to see almost 22 per cent growth in post-secondary enrolment in the Edmonton region from 2020 to 2028, a rate that will significantly outpace overall population growth.
Alberta is expected to see an increase of 53,000 to 113,000 18-to-25-year-olds from 2020 to 2030, creating a need for the province to accommodate 12 to 26 per cent more post-secondary students, or an additional 47,000 seats, according to a 2020 report from the University of Alberta Students’ Union.
MacEwan’s new facility will serve a growing number of business students, but also students in other faculties, who are all encouraged to be entrepreneurs.
“There is a high demand for business graduates and there is a high interest from students in taking business. Also at MacEwan, for example, our faculty of fine arts and communications – where we have musicians and artists – they learn as much about the business of their craft as the craft itself,” Trimbee says.
“It will be an integrated part of campus. It’s not just for business students.”
She said to expect “significant” construction activity this summer, with work starting on the road, bike lane and utilities. The building itself will start to go up in 2024, and it’s expected to open to students in 2027.
The university is pitching the School of Business as an innovation hub for Edmonton’s downtown that will bring new opportunities for collaboration with industry and community, and ultimately add vibrancy to the city’s core.
“We are key to the revitalization of downtown. We bring about 20,000 people a day downtown,” Trimbee says. “I like to think of us as more than consumers. This is a place full of ideas, full of energy.”