A living, breathing building at Thompson Rivers University
“This building is for the students,” said Thompson Rivers University vice-president of advancement Christopher Seguin as he gave reporters a tour this week of the brand-new Brown Family House of Learning.
The $32-million facility officially opened its doors on Thursday, May 26.
It is named for the Brown family, which donated $2 million to the building’s construction.
“From top to bottom, the focus was put on the student experience,” Seguin said. “We’ve built for the needs of our students.”
TRU’s House of Learning combines concrete, steel and glass with wood accents — including some beetle-kill pine.
The building features a library, classrooms, study areas, flexible student space, computer labs, faculty offices, the school’s largest lecture theatre and a Tim Hortons outlet.
It also boasts a 1,300-plant, four-storey living wall.
The House of Learning will house TRU’s Faculty of Law temporarily, until renovations to Old Main are completed within three to four years, Seguin said.
“The jewel” of the building, according to Seguin, is the Irving K. Barber B.C. Centre — a 300-seat in-the-round lecture theatre modelled after a traditional Salish winter pithouse.
“This is the largest in-the-round theatre in B.C., surpassing the Wosk Centre in Vancouver,” Seguin said. “It’s world-class.”
The B.C. Centre was constructed with 487 logs.
It will be used daily as a lecture theatre, but will also be available for community use by rental or donation. The first event to be held in the facility will be the Ike Barber Summit on Aboriginal Education, which will take place on Monday, May 30.
The B.C. Centre is located on the first floor, as is the Tim Hortons outlet, the KPMG Gallery, First Nations offices and a large computer lab. The living wall also begins on the first floor.
The second floor contains Fawcett Hall and a number of other classrooms, each named for donors who contributed to the construction of the House of Learning.
TRU’s Faculty of Law will also be housed temporarily on the second floor. After the law school moves into the renovated Old Main building, the space will be transformed into faculty offices.
The third floor is home to a science library, math and computing offices and the great reading room — a large study room with nearly 180-degree views.
The fourth floor is home to open study areas and private study rooms, as well as faculty offices.
Throughout the building, etched glass and wood trim is intended to mimic the reeds used in buildings constructed by traditional Shuswap aboriginals.
Seguin said the House of Learning is the next step in TRU’s growth into a major university.
“We want our campus to be the heart of Kamloops,” he said.
“This building will help make that a reality.”