Fanshawe College President Peter Devlin (right) and other politicians and dignitaries cut a cake shaped like the college's new building at 130 Dundas St., at its grand open, September 14, 2018. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

‘Very exciting new chapter in Fanshawe’s history’

Fanshawe College cut the metaphoric ribbon on its new $66-million, 140,000 square foot facility in downtown London Friday.

While 1,600 students began classes at the former Kingsmill’s department store building at 130 Dundas St. last week, grand opening celebrations weren’t held until now.

“As the single largest capital investment the college has undertaken to date, this facility is a very exciting new chapter in Fanshawe’s history,” said Fanshawe President Peter Devlin. “It’s great to be able to celebrate along side Londoners and leaders who believed in this particular project.”

The building, which stands seven storeys high, is home to Fanshawe’s Schools of Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts, and Information Technology. It has 25 student-focused spaces, five culinary labs with more than $1-million in kitchen equipment, 250 wireless access points, an over 20 foot high living wall with more than 200 plants, and three terraces.

Culinary students will be required to spend 75 hours a year working at the Chef’s Table, the school’s ground-floor restaurant.

The original facade of Kingsmill’s was retained, as were several other historic features such as yellow brick and wood beams from the 1930s.

“This building has a real appropriate nod to the past with things the pneumatic tube system, the elevator cab which is now the change room in our store, the Kingsmill’s safe, the bricks – all are a nod to the past. But the building is bright, modern, airy, and filled with energy. It has a real look to tomorrow and the future. It’s a really great combo,” said Devlin.

Fred Kingsmill, whose great-grandfather established the iconic department store, said he barely recognized the place when he came for a special tour a few weeks ago.

“I was overwhelmed. There are new wonders on every floor,” said Kingsmill.

When combined with the existing downtown location across the street, the new building brings the total number of students at Fanshawe’s downtown campus to 2,300. Roughly 250 faculty and staff work out of the facilities.

“I have heard so many great, positive remarks about the building from students who are studying here downtown,” said Jahmoyia Smith, president of the Fanshawe Student Union. “Studying downtown is a huge advantage for our students as they’ll be working alongside businesses and industries where they will be looking for employment after graduation. I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact our students will have on the downtown”

Several politicians and dignitaries attended Friday’s grand opening celebration including London area MPs Peter Fragiskatos and Kate Young, MPP Terence Kernaghan, Mayor Matt Brown, and Downtown London General Manager Janette MacDonald.