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Mining magnate donates $10 million to architecture school

Sudbury’s emerging school of design has a new name: The McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University.
Rob and Cheryl McEwen in Sudbury.

Sudbury’s emerging school of design has a new name: The McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University.

Goldcorp founder and CEO of McEwen Mining Rob McEwen and his wife Cheryl were in Sudbury, June 29, to donate $10 million to the downtown Sudbury institution, currently under its second phase of construction.

“We are immensely grateful to the McEwen family for this transformative gift,” said Terrance Galvin, founding director of the School of Architecture.

“This investment will help us fulfil our mission to establish a unique and cutting-edge architecture program whose graduates will contribute to socio-economic and cultural development in northern latitudes across Canada and around the world. With his vision and enthusiasm, Rob will be a superb mentor to our students.”

The couple have contributed more than $50 million in the fields of healthcare and education.

Though known as a visionary in the mining industry, one of McEwen's earliest passions was in fact, architecture.

“From the ages of seven to 18 I absolutely knew what I was going to be — I was going to be an architect,” said McEwen. “I loved and still love elegant, innovative and functional designs and structures that inspire and instill strength, confidence and awe.”

McEwen spent time after his first year of university working at INCO, a Sudbury connection that he still holds to this day.

“I worked in the Frood-Stobie Mine doing many different jobs and was trained on many different pieces of equipment and at the end of the summer, the mine captain suggested that I was likely to get a scholarship if I applied.

“I thanked him for the recommendation and support and I told him mining wasn't part of my future. Today, I find that statement most ironic. But I'm very grateful for my summer in Sudbury with INCO, as it prepared me for a future that I had not imagined.”

The McEwen School of Architecture is the first such school to open in Canada in 45 years. It is also the first school of its kind in Northern Ontario and the first outside of Quebec to offer courses in French. 

The school is housed in a new 77,000-square-foot, $45-million complex in the city's downtown, incorporating a pair of century-old repurposed buildings formerly owned by CP Rail and CP Telegraph. The final 52,000-square-foot phase officially opens this fall to serve more than 260 students.

“As we arrived this morning with Rob and Cheryl, I was once again struck by the tremendous change in our city's downtown skyline,” said university president and vice-chancellor Dominic Giroux.

“What a transformation we have seen and how exciting it has been to watch the remarkable project take shape over the last several years," Giroux said. "You might say it takes a village to create the new and unique school of architecture, true, but it also takes the vision and support of people like Rob and Cheryl McEwen. 

"They have demonstrated their profound belief in making a difference and today they are making a big difference here at the Laurentian University School of Architecture.”