Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/11/2015 (542 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There is potential for Winnipeg to establish a centre and community space that uses one of the city's most iconic spaces -- the Hudson's Bay building -- as an impact hub.
Impact hubs serve as incubators, innovation labs, social enterprise community centres and co-working and events spaces for the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas dedicated to effecting change.
The Bay building as an impact hub could house co-working and events facilities and restore its role as a centre for trade, not only of goods, but of ideas. Building on the priorities launched and sustained by the University of Winnipeg, the Bay impact hub could include three themes: indigenous culture and learning; social entrepreneurship and sustainability; ideas trading and global citizenship.
Lloyd Axworthy, beginning with his time as president at the University of Winnipeg, presented an inspiring vision for this building that defines Winnipeg's past and has the potential to redefine its future as an essential link in shaping and strengthening the Canadian federation and identity. Built in 1926 as the original Hudson's Bay Company flagship store, the Bay is a testament to the trading network that helped to build our country. Stately elegance attests to a history steeped in responsibility and foresight documented in centuries rather than years.
Situated at the heart of Winnipeg's political, financial, cultural and social landscape, the Bay building has the potential, as Axworthy has advocated, to become a centre for design and entrepreneurship dedicated to indigenous heritage and downtown revitalization. From its location at the corner of Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard, the building from the north offers a view of the Legislative Building -- the province's political centre. From the west, it's a view of Portage and Main -- Winnipeg's initial financial centre. From the east, you can see the Winnipeg Art Gallery -- one of the city's cultural centres. Finally, from the south, it sits on the edge of the North End, railway yards and dilapidated housing.
And from this location, the Bay building has the ability to incorporate and address each of these components within a collaborative enterprise founded on the premise of human security, equality, local talent and entrepreneurship.
Imagine a display of themes and ideas and their representatives, doormen of old, as you enter the building through its revolving doors directing you to your destination. Indigenous design, crafts and culture? Main floor and straight ahead, please. Sustainable transportation? -- third floor and to the right. Renewable energy? Third floor and to the left. Studio space -- to the fourth floor, please. Dinner and dance -- let us escort you to the former Paddlewheel, where your cares will be swept away as you dance to the rhythm of a local band, the whirring of the paddlewheel, against the backdrop of restored mosaic illustrating Canada's history.
Mixed-use development of the Bay building could combine an impact hub with condos and green space. By integrating institutional, commercial, cultural and residential uses, the corner of Portage and Memorial would once again become the defining centre of activity for Winnipeg. The hub would be a space for lecture series, offering a cultural and retail experience in the form of studios, galleries and shops, a human construct and landscape that stimulates the senses and provides a continuous and evolving narrative of Winnipeg's history, identity and character.
Jennifer Verlaine Lukovich is a research scientist in climate change in the Arctic at the Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Manitoba.