by Marco Ovies, Features Editor

So you’ve been on campus for a few weeks now, and you’ve finally managed to find that one tutorial in that really obscure part of the building. But what else is there to do on campus? Well, buckle up, because I’m about to take you on a tour of some of the coolest places on the SFU Surrey and Vancouver campuses. Spoiler warning: there are many.


Surrey campus

It turns out Surrey campus is actually younger than some of its students, with the school opening back in 2002. I’m sure you didn’t need any help feeling old but here you are. What’s more surprising is this campus was originally a Zellers Department Store and did not look anything like the campus you know and love today. Additionally, it consisted of open access classrooms and study spaces. That’s right, think of a studio apartment except it’s an entire school. Talk about minimalism. 

It wasn’t until 2006 that Surrey campus actually got its first real building that wasn’t a closed-down department store. This is now the four-story tall building we are all familiar with. You heard right, four stories. While you may have classes on the “fifth floor” of the campus, Surrey campus starts on the second floor. Why? Maybe you should ask the people who built the “fourth floor” of the Academic Quadrangle of Burnaby campus. 

While you may groan about Surrey campus being built inside a mall, the decision was very intentional. In an article for Canadian Architect, Bing Thom, the designer of Surrey campus said, “We always intended for Central City to serve as a catalyst to create a new urban core for Surrey. We wanted to connect a learning institution to the broader community, and with the campus nearing full student capacity, we are proud to have achieved this goal.” 

The building is intended to resemble the prow of an overturned boat and its roof is made out of heavy timber. Michael Heeney, one of Bing Thom’s partners said, To recognize British Columbia’s past, we chose to use timber construction, but to reflect our future, we interpreted wood in a very contemporary and high tech manner.” 

A notable place to check out is the Embark Sustainability Learning Gardens which has both outdoor plots and a vertical garden located inside the campus. According to Embark, the purpose of these gardens is to give students “a space to explore their connections to food production and security in our communities.” 

You can find this vertical garden on the third floor of the Surrey campus close to the elevator (technically the second floor but I already made my petty comment four paragraphs ago). Students can embark on their gardening journey (sorry I couldn’t help myself) by renting individual plots and growing their own produce.

Lastly, it’s important to note you can borrow video games and video game consoles from the Fraser Library on campus. And I’m not talking about old consoles either, but Play Station 5s and Nintendo Switch consoles. What was the most exciting for me was to discover you can rent some of the old Pokémon DS games like Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl. Catch me falling behind in class to relive my childhood nostalgia.


Vancouver campus

The building with the most history on the Vancouver campus has to be the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. This one came as a surprise to me, but Goldcorp is not named after a person, but the gold mining company with the same name based in Vancouver. Why you may ask? Well . . . because of the $10 million they donated to SFU. This was a big controversy back in 2008 because of Goldcorp’s questionable mining practices in Latin America. 

In an interview with NewsWire, Goldcorp president Chuck Jeannes said, “We are optimistic that by working with Simon Fraser University, we will be able to reach out to its businesses and residents to help create a more sustainable future.” What has Goldcorp done to help the community? Beats me, but in 2019 they merged with Newmont, a gold mining company based in Colorado and Goldcorp kind of disappeared. 

Notable buildings inside of Goldcorp include the Audain Gallery which was built in 2010. The gallery “advances the aesthetic and discursive production and presentation of contemporary art through a responsive program of exhibitions that support engaged pedagogy.” Whoever can tell me what “engaged pedagogy” means, please send me an email at

The Audain Gallery has been home to exhibitions by various international artists. The gallery is named after Michael Audain who is chair of Polygon Homes LTD, the Audain Foundation, the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation, and the Audain Art Museum Foundation.

Additionally, Goldcorp includes Woodward’s Cultural Programs & Community Engagement. The name originates from Woodward’s department store which operated from 1892–1993 in Vancouver. It was forced to close after being hit hard by the 1980’s recession, but we will always have SFU’s Woodward’s to remember it by. Why we keep naming all of our Vancouver campus places after companies is beyond me (actually I’m pretty sure it’s capitalism but as a current SFU student I don’t know if I could get in trouble for saying that). 

Another notable thing to check out is SFU’s Collection at Bill Reid Gallery located at 639 Hornby Street. This collection contains 161 pieces of art, including different prints, sculptures, and jewelry, that were gifted to SFU from the Bill Reid Foundation. 118 of these works are by Bill Reid himself. 

Now who exactly is Bill Reid and why does he have his own gallery? Well, he is “a master goldsmith, carver, sculptor, writer, broadcaster, mentor and community activist” who lived from 1920–1998. Born to an American father and Haida mother, Reid did not start exploring his roots until he was 23. According to the gallery website, “Bill Reid infused Haida traditions with his own modernist aesthetic to create both exquisitely small as well as monumental work that captured the public’s imagination, and introduced a timeless vocabulary to the modern world.”