Vibrant and engaged campus spaces

Our campus is a jewel at the heart of Brandon.

We are a central focal point of learning, culture, sport and community for the southwestern Manitoba region. Our physical space is unique: We boast a dynamic architectural heritage set back among an oasis of quiet green space and pedestrian-friendly plazas. We are close to downtown, prominent on two of Brandon’s major thoroughfares, yet also nestled against a quiet residential area.

Our spaces boast greenery, public art, and a burgeoning Indigenous presence, but we must acknowledge also that there are unfortunate expanses of drab concrete and gravel. We are separated from the quiet, tree-lined streets that neighbour us by rushing traffic or a moat of barren parking lots. Our plazas feature picnic tables and benches, but also loading docks and utility boxes. Our entrances could be more prominent and more accessible. We lack a clear and inviting front door.

We can get more out of our spaces by adding bright and inclusive murals, focusing on accessibility, and creating a feeling of welcome along new avenues of entrance as envisioned in our Campus Master Plan. We must invite our students, faculty, staff, and our entire community to feel at home, at all hours of the night and day, through all the months, including the crisp days of winter.

A sense of place is central to the idea of a university campus. One lesson from the pandemic is the importance of social presence — there is value to being face to face. We can take advantage of technology to facilitate meetings and some classes from a distance but technology cannot replace the importance of small talk before a meeting, or the exchange of simple ideas over coffee that find their way into a lecture or research paper. Distance does not create best friends the way library study tables or residence lounges do. These are spaces for serendipity. Imagine every hallway a museum, every lounge an art gallery,

and every classroom a laboratory. Spaces that bring life to a campus are part of the success of a university. These are spaces that can transform a commuter campus into an evening and weekend destination, and they are spaces that make a regional university a hub of activity.

The planned renovations of the Brodie Science building will be an opportunity to do this on an even larger scale. The need for a renovated Science building is great, the opportunity it provides is even greater. Brodie renovations must meet the increasing demands of cutting-edge research and still provide space to welcome our students and our community. Showcase spaces will be used to recruit more conferences to our campus and become a desired spot for community meetings. This new space will compliment the existing Healthy Living Centre, Lorne Watson Hall and the Louis Riel Room as gathering spots for students, faculty and staff and the community.