How have students led the design process?




2013 Consultation Summaries 

November 2013

With the survey and focus groups completed, and the architects busy with analyzing the vast insight provided by students, the main focus of November was to keep students connected to the project and prepare for the January 2014 outreach, when the chosen SUB site will be announced.

Build SFU Video Project: “How to be an SFU Student”

To demonstrate Build SFU’s sense of humor and understanding of student life at SFU, we created the now famous, “How to be an SFU Student” video. The satirical video pokes fun at some of the common perceptions, and misconceptions, held by many SFU students as they attempt to navigate university life. Launched on October 29, it has received nearly 6500 views in its first 30 days. 

Social Media

We have been very active in our social media efforts in November, providing the most up-to-date project information possible, as well as providing helpful student-life tips, inspiring guest bloggers, and community oriented posts to encourage student involvement. We are happy to announce that we reached 500 “likes” on our Facebook page and over 300 followers for our Twitter feed.

Build SFU Community Builder Award

In mid-November we launched our first Community Builder Award competition to recognize and reward a student community builder. We invited students and staff to nominate SFU students who go above and beyond the contributions of a typical student and exemplify the spirit of fostering connectedness and building a stronger community at SFU. Our friends at Listel Hotels generously donated a one-night stay at the Listel Hotel (Robson Street) + a gift card for Forage Restaurant. To date, we have received many strong applications and nominations will continue to be accepted until December 6th with the winner being announced on December 12th.

Student Advisory Committee

Throughout November, Build SFU’s student advisory committee has again actively provided valuable student insight for the project’s outreach plan and production of collateral materials to more effectively engage and inform students of key project issues.

October 2013

Build SFU Survey Success

Response to the survey exceeded expectations and received completed surveys from nearly 4200 SFU undergrads. This large sample size has helped us collect a significant amount of student-life insight relating to site selection and programing for the student union building. The architects and Build SFU are currently analyzing the data, but so far the results of our consultation and outreach clearly demonstrate that most students recognize the value a SUB will bring to SFU.

Whistler Prize Pack Winner

Congratulations to SFU student, Sonia Dhaliwal! Sonia was the lucky undergrad whose name was chosen in the survey prize draw for the Whistler Prize Pack. Sonia receives a two night stay at the Listel Whistler + $200 worth of gift cards for Black’s Pub and Restaurant and Rick’s Grill. Build SFU thanks the Listel Hotels and Black’s Pub and Restaurant for their support of the Build SFU project.

Street Team Outreach

The Build SFU street team continued their outreach activities throughout the campus which included: mobile coffee cart, trivia contests, prize wheel, bean bag toss games and others.  These activities were integral in connecting with students and receiving their feedback on the various sites.

Community Update with Perkins and Will (PW)

On October 17th, Build SFU hosted an informative community update in the Think Tank.   The architects shared their preliminary interpretations of what they had heard from their initial meetings with students  during the focus groups, work sessions, and the early analysis of the undergrad survey. From the information gathered, PW was able to draft a preliminary “benchmark priorities” for the project which included: student focus; sense of community; outstanding design; nature. PW will return in November to deliver the next community update.

Preparing for 2014

Following the completion of the Fall consultation in late October, the Build SFU team is preparing for the next outreach phase of the project. It is our hope that by January we will be ready to announce the chosen site of the SUB to students. Keeping that in mind, we are designing a plan which informs students of the site decision while encouraging participation in the upcoming project phases.

We thank all the students for their support and participation and look forward to continuing to build momentum throughout the next phases of the project.

September 2013

In September the Build SFU team welcomed 15 new members, the street team, to help engage with thousands of SFU undergrads, raise their awareness of the project and encourage their participation in the consultation.

Week of Welcome and Clubs Days (first two weeks of September)

Building on the momentum of Orientation week in late August, September started with a strong street team presence during Week of Welcome and Clubs Days events at all three SFU campuses. The team set up informative “engagement stations” in convocation mall (and other central locations) displaying large posters with details and building renderings for each of the three possible SUB sites. During this time, the team distributed over 4000 informative brochures about the project and the proposed sites.

Stationary Displays

Throughout the Burnaby campus, a dozen 6ft x 3ft roll-up displays with student ambassadors wearing Build SFU t-shirts with the caption: The SUB will be my place to: thrive; relax; eat; study etc. The displays encouraged students to complete the survey and sign-up for a focus group at

Build SFU Survey

On September 9th the Build SFU survey was launched which included a variety of questions relating to student life and the three proposed sites for the SUB. The survey was emailed to over 20,000 undergrads. The objective of the survey is to gather student insight and ideas to be used to assist in site selection and programming for the SUB.

The survey remains active until October 4. To add more incentive to the survey, we secured sponsorship from Listel hotels, who donated a two night stay at their Whistler Hotel. Blacks Pub in Whistler also donated $200 in gift cards which allowed us to create an attractive Whistler prize package for one lucky student whose name will be drawn at random, following the completion of the survey.

During the first day, more than 500 students had completed the survey. By September 23 that number reached over 2000. It is likely that by the end of the survey period (Oct 4), the total number of completed surveys could reach over 3000.

Architects Outreach and Focus Groups

Architects were on campus during the second and fourth weeks of September listening to students and gathering insight and ideas for the SUB. They began by attending Clubs Days and meeting with each of the over 100 clubs in convocation mall at the Burnaby campus.

Throughout the rest of the month, architects conducted more than 20 intensive focus groups with a wide cross-section of students and project stakeholders, in order to get a clearer understanding of campus life at SFU and the needs of the students.

Street Team Outreach

During September, the Build SFU street team did a variety of outreach activities throughout the campus which included: Keva plank building blocks, trivia contests, prize wheels, bean bag toss games and others.

One of our sponsors, Ethical Bean coffee, generously provided us with a professional brewer, 4 thermos dispensers, cups and enough coffee throughout the month to brew approximately 25 liters of fair-trade coffee each day. This allowed us to provide free coffee to students in the AQ using our mobile coffee cart.  This provided a fantastic opportunity to connect with students and get their feedback on the various sites. This also gave us a chance to encourage students to complete the survey and sign-up for focus groups.

Social Media

We continued to be active on Facebook and Twitter daily, and grew our Facebook likes to 450. We used Facebook and Twitter to promote our survey, focus groups, mobile coffee cart location, and outreach activities.

Build SFU considers September’s consultation activities a huge success. We thank all the students for their support and participation and look forward to continuing to build momentum throughout the next phases of the project.

July & August 2013

July and August have been exciting months for the Build SFU consultation and momentum for the project continues to build.

Build SFU continued to meet with a wide variety of student groups and SFU departments in order to increase project awareness and better position ourselves for Fall consultation activities.

We continued to be active on Facebook and Twitter every day and grew our Facebook likes to over 400 by posting engaging links, pictures, and contests to keep people talking about Build SFU.

During July and August we connected with numerous community partners who recognized the value of the project and offered to help us by donating fabulous prizes towards our grand prize draw, which all students who complete the SUB survey have a chance to win.  These sponsors include: Listel Hotels, Black’s Pub (Whistler), and Ethical Bean Coffee.

Student union building (SUB) tour: towards the end of July, members of the Build SFU team, along with members of the SFSS, the Joint Steering Committee, Perkins + Will and others involved in the project, embarked on a two day tour of 3 student union buildings at universities in the United States. These included the University of Washington, Washington State University, and the University of Idaho.

The tour was very informative and provided us with valuable insight for student needs and behavior, site selection, and space programming to assist us in designing our SUB and conducting an effective and successful student consultation.

Another highlight of this period was the creation of the Build SFU student Advisory Committee (SAC) which is a student body which bolsters project communications and makes recommendations on the project from a student’s perspective. To learn more, click here. The SAC meets weekly in the Think Tank.

Aside from organizing our Fall outreach activities on all three SFU campuses, much of the focus of August was centered on the hiring and training of the Build SFU Outreach “Street team”. We have assembled a talented team of 15 SFU students to help us inform and connect students to the project during the Fall consultation period.

The group was very successful to reaching out to many of the 1500 students who participated in the new student orientation day at the Burnaby Campus (August 29). This was a great first step for the team.  Even with a minimal amount of time to interact with theses rotating groups, the team managed to sign up dozens of new students for the Build SFU newsletter and were very successful at engaging, informing, and connecting these new SFU students to the Build SFU project.

June 2013

June 2013 has been an exciting and successful month for the Build SFU consultation with continued student outreach efforts and information gathering activities at all three SFU campuses.

During this month, Build SFU became more active and engaged with its social media tactics.  Build SFU (Facebook and Twitter) now averages three posts each day and conducts at least two social media contests per week which offer students a chance to win prizes (donated by community sponsors) for providing creative insight into project related issues.  This more proactive strategy has led to  increased Facebook and Twitter activity.

Aside from presenting his preliminary consultation plan to Forum, Ross MacMillan, Consultation Coordinatorconnected with hundreds of students via email and social media, and conducted several in-person consultations with numerous student groups, clubs, DSUs, faculty, other campus organizations as well as university representatives such as administrators and faculty including:

·         Communications Student Union (CMNSU)

·         Interactive Arts and Technology Student Union (IATSU)

·         Geography Student Union

·         SFU Rec and Athletics

·         Beedie School of Business

·         Geography Student Union

·         Engineering Student Union

·         Linguistics Student Union

·         Dance Student Union

·         Facilities Services

·         CJSF radio

·         SFU Jazz Band

·         SFU Choir

Each meeting was extremely valuable and created more effective connections between students and the project. All groups expressed great interest in the project and provided Build SFU with valuable student life and project-related information to assist with the student union building (SUB) site selection and programming.

Since sustainability is a high priority for the project, Ross attended the Green Living Show at Canada Place to gather insight from numerous green building professionals, as well as several members of UBC’s Campus and Community Planning department.

Throughout June, the Build SFU team continued to consult with students in the Think Tank and gathered valuable insight on student life and the opinions of SFU students. Some of the most common concerns we heard from students, relating to the SUB, included:

·         Creating more storage space

·         Creating an exhibition/performance space for students projects and performances

·         More quiet study areas

·         Communal cooking area

·         Napping areas

·         24 hour food services

·         Weekly events

·         Better lines of communications informing students what’s going on at SFU

If you would like to provide Build SFU with your opinions and insight on the project, please contact us

May 2013

This month saw the addition of the new Consultation Coordinator, Ross MacMillan. Aside from time spent becoming familiar with the Build SFU project, Ross spent considerable time doing student outreach around campus and gathering information and insight daily from students visiting the Think Tank.

The Build SFU team reached out to over 20 clubs and DSUs during the Clubs Days event in Convocation Mall from May 14th to 15th. The team also attended Surrey Clubs Day on May 16th. This was a “Look, Listen, and Learn” opportunity for Ross as well as the rest of the Build SFU team to become familiar with the various student organizations and some of the issues they face. While there, the main focus was to engage with students and answer project questions pertaining to site selection, the long term schedule, and the summer project plan.

The team achieved great success with an interactive site selection activity for the Student Union Building (SUB). Using an aerial map of SFU and colored stickers to designate areas where students are most active and areas where they would suggest the SUB be located.Students were very responsive to the map activity because it was a fun, non-threatening way to involve students and let them know that Build SFU was genuinely interested in listening to their ideas and opinions concerning the SUB. In general, most students agreed that a SUB and stadium would help promote the ‘community feel’ that is lacking on the Burnaby campus. Of the dozens of people that were engaged in conversation, only two garnered opinions against the project.

In order to prepare for student consultations regarding the SUB site selection in the fall, the development of a detailed consultation/communications plan commenced. It was important to research similar projects at other universities, connect with project stakeholders and potential project champions as well as prospective corporate and community partners.

Other consultation activities throughout May included weekly team brainstorming sessions to gather valuable information on student life issues and social media topics.  

April 2013

This month our team members continued to encourage students to share their ideas and input in the Think Tank. Attendance in the Think Tank appeared to decline this month comparative to March due to the start of final exam season and in-office interviews for the Consultation Coordinator position.

We invited Forum members to attend a student consultation this month in the Think Tank. Discussion questions included:

If we could build a SUB anywhere on campus, which precinct would be best?

What are the most important considerations for site selection?

Describe a typical day on campus. What areas of campus do you spend most of your time in?

Discussion among the participants flowed positively around the conference table throughout the consultation process. In order to have participants engaged in whiteboard brainstorming in the Think Tank, it was suggested that in the future consultations start in the whiteboard area and then proceed to the table for activities such as circling favorite precincts. 

Build SFU’s effectiveness, team members participated in regular discussions to review the effectiveness of consultation strategies and tactics being employed.
March 2013

March hosted Arts Week and gave the Build SFU team a fantastic opportunity to engage with the student population.  While outreach time was significant, student project workers focused the majority of their time in March on research for the project including:

Student engagement strategies

Similar SUB projects at other Universities

Website content

Development of a staff training manual

Arts Week (March 6th and 7th): Relative to the Clubs Day event in the month of January, Arts Week drew a smaller number of students. Our team set up a table in the South AQ portion of the campus and was able to reach out to approximately 100 students within the two day period. Students drew on sheets of paper to present their ideas of the new Student Union Building and student experience. This interactive tactic proved to be very effective in gathering student insight into the project.

The student project workers continue to grow in confidence with each outreach event. Our team continued to gather valuable student feedback throughout March and noticed a higher level of interest among the student population as well as an increase in the number of student visits to the Think Tank. 

February 2013

During February, our team members conducted sporadic outreach sessions around the Burnaby campus and encouraged student participation in the Think Tank. Student project workers focused much of their efforts on engagement tactics training and research for the project including:

·         Student engagement strategies

·         Similar projects at other Universities

·         Website marketing

·         Project questions for students to answer

·         Development of a safety and security manual

·         Development of a staff training manual

The Build SFU team gathered feedback from the architect presentations that occurred on January 30th, 2013. This student and audience feedback would assist in the final selection of the architectural firm to design the Student Union Building. 

January 2013

January 2013 was a very exciting month for Build SFU. It not only saw the opening of the Build SFU Think Tank, but was the project’s first month of outreach. The month played host to the Orientation Services Fair andClubs Days at both the Burnaby and Surrey Campuses. In general, interest in Build SFU was very high and students were excited about the upcoming creation of the Student Union Building to enrich the student experience at SFU.

Burnaby Clubs Days: Throughout the three days (Jan 8th –10th), the Build SFU team spoke with over 150 students. Questions asked included: What is Build SFU? What is the next step in the project? What is the project timeline? Some students wanted to know general information about the project, while others were very eager to find out about the details on how and when decisions regarding the project are made.

The Build SFU team was able to engage students effectively by providing them the opportunity to brainstorm and offer their thoughts on the Build SFU project by means of a whiteboard and markers. The team found that students responded most positively to the question “What should a Student Union Building include?” Interestingly, many students enquired about volunteer opportunities for Build SFU. Using our whiteboard method was a fantastic way to involve students at the clubs table. We are continuing to develop new ways for students to volunteer their time, ideas and efforts into the project.

To increase student participation and interaction in future events the following are a few strategies that could be potentially implemented:

1.       As promotional material is distributed to students, our project workers will pose the question “Have you heard about Build SFU?”

2.       Attaching pins to our handout material or including special prizes to be distributed.

3.       Creating a user friendly map of the potential site locations for the Student Union Building to provide to students to initiate discussion.

Surrey Clubs Days (January 22nd and 23rd): Surrey campus was noticeably quieter than in Burnaby. Most students we spoke with were very enthusiastic about the project, however, some expressed concerns regarding the location of the building (Burnaby campus). Team members were very empathetic but mentioned that it was highly likely that some elective courses they would take would be offered at the SFU Burnaby campus.

Orientation Services Fair:  The Build SFU team set up a table in the North AQ during the fair to engage with students and found that the majority of students were very interested in learning more about the Build SFU project. Most students asked questions regarding construction, design and the opening date for the new Student Union Building. In general students preferred the website to written material as their primary source of information.  Using a similar strategy to Clubs Days, our team spoke to dozens of students within an hour and fifteen minute timeslot.

On January 30th, 2013, three architectural firms provided presentations on their proposals for the Student Union Building. The event was heavily promoted in advance by the Build SFU team and saw a considerable turnout in attendance.  The presentations encouraged student and audience participation as well as fostering an environment for feedback on the project. 

The Build SFU Think Tank, a welcoming space for undergraduate students to engage and collaborate as the Build SFU project progresses, had its’ grand opening on Friday, January 18th. To view the Think Tank grand opening online visit

Overall, January was a success. In particular, Clubs Days and the Orientation Services Fair were great events for informing students about the project, while at the same time, connecting with students and learning from their ideas and insight.