Royal Roads University transforms old swimming-pool building into auditorium

Future classes of graduates at Royal Roads University will receive their degrees on campus, as the university transforms an old swimming-pool building into a 500-seat auditorium. The new space will also be available for public bookings, making it the largest conference space available in the West Shore.

On Friday, Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean and Royal Roads University president Dr. Phillip Steenkamp were on hand at a dedication ceremony for the new Dogwood Auditorium on the grounds of the university.

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The building was originally built in 1959 and housed a swimming pool used by cadets at the former Royal Roads Military College. It was decommissioned in the early 2000s.

It underwent a two-and-a-half-year, $15.2-million renovation, with the provincial government contributing $14.6 million to the project. The heritage facade of the building was preserved where possible. An art piece titled All My Relations, which adorns the front entrance, was designed by Kwakwak’awakw artist Carey Newman and inspired by conversations with Asma-na-hi Antoine, the university’s director of Indigenous engagement.

The repurposed space includes an auditorium, a smaller multi-purpose room, media services room and a meeting room.

When not used by the university, it will be available for public event bookings starting in January.

In addition to classes, students will be able to receive their degrees in the new auditorium starting next year. For the past 10 years, the university’s convocations have been held at the Royal Theatre downtown. Before 2010, the ceremony was held outdoors, under temporary white tents set up on the grounds.

parrais@timescolonist.com

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