Building for Success

by Sharon Aschaiek

Business management research, education and thought leadership at York University will take a major step forward with the opening this fall of the Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building at the Schulich School of Business.

Designed by Baird Sampson Neuert Architects as one of the most environmentally sustainable academic buildings in North America, the new 67,000-square-foot structure will serve as a dedicated learning space for graduate education, administrative operations and research projects conducted between faculty members, students and industry partners.

The cornerstone of Schulich’s Leading Change fundraising and alumni engagement campaign, the $50-million building received considerable support from Rob and Cheryl McEwen, accomplished entrepreneurs and philanthropists who provided an $8-million donation – one of the largest gifts ever received by the school. To date, close to $25 million has been donated by alumni and friends towards the building. The project is also benefiting from a $15-million investment by the federal government through its Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

“We are delighted to support what Schulich Dean Dezsö J. Horváth sees as the next transformative area for growth and leadership in business,” says Rob McEwen, Chair and chief owner of McEwen Mining Inc., and a former Schulich Graduate Business Council president who graduated with an MBA in 1978. He serves as one of seven co-chairs of Schulich’s Leading Change campaign and sits on the Dean’s Advisory Council.

“We’re aiming,” McEwen emphasizes, “to make the building a centre for innovative thinking and equip graduates with the necessary skills to compete and build in the global economy.”

Adds Cheryl McEwen, founder of Make My Day Foods and vice-chair of the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation’s Board of Directors, “We want to demonstrate that in Canada really great things are happening in education. Schulich is already an international leader in business education, and this project builds on that strength.”


LOCATED NEXT to the Seymour Schulich Building on York’s Keele Campus, the Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building will house four interconnecting research and academic facilities.

Among them is the future Centre of Excellence in Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, designed to become a hotbed of industry outreach, industry and academic collaboration, research and practical teaching in business analytics and artificial intelligence. Part of the centre’s footprint on the second floor includes the 800-square-foot Deloitte Cognitive Analytics and Visualization Lab, offering a leading-edge and purpose-built space for exploring predictive analytics, natural language processing, machine learning, analytics design and visualization, and data-based storytelling.

“Schulich was the first school to develop a master’s degree in business analytics, and the visualization lab will build on it by allowing for presenting complex data sets in graphic form,” says Dean Horváth. “This will make it easier for businesses to use the resulting insights to gain a competitive advantage.”

Also to be located on the building’s second floor is the Centre for Global Enterprise, mandated to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) expand their operations into international markets and develop the next generation of global entrepreneurs and SMEs. Up one level, visitors will find the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business, a globally eminent leader in creating and disseminating new knowledge about the social, ethical, environmental and political responsibilities of business. Sharing the third floor is the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure, the world’s first centre dedicated to real estate and infrastructure education and teaching, experiential learning, research and industry outreach.

In addition to research labs, breakout rooms and other academic spaces, the Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building will promote community and well-being with a wellness centre, multiple lounges, a café, a landscaped courtyard, thoughtfully chosen artwork and ample natural light.

It will also feature extensive green roofs, a rainwater recapturing system, radiant floor heating and cooling, low-energy LED lighting, water-efficient fixtures and a solar chimney that will support natural ventilation. These sustainability-minded details will help push the building towards obtaining LEED Gold certification, one of the highest green building ratings worldwide.

“This is not going to be just a building, it will symbolize what’s possible,” says Schulich Professor James  McKellar, an architect who oversaw the building’s design and construction.

“The new space will help foster a culture that will allow Schulich to undertake pioneering research that can make a difference to industry and government. I think it will be an inspiring space to study and work.”

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