460 Portage Avenue courtesy of DPA+PSA+DIN Collective

Plug In ICA and University of Winnipeg break ground at new site

Downtown Winnipeg is gaining another environmentally friendly Silver LEED building at the key corner of Portage Avenue and Memorial as a result of a partnership between Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art and The University of Winnipeg. Activities inside the new, three-story building will enhance and build on downtown’s thriving arts and business hub.

Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at 460 Portage Avenue will create a new internationally-renowned centre for contemporary visual art exhibitions, research, education, publishing and residencies, contributing to a more dynamic urban environment.

The foundation is designed to accommodate a fourth floor for future development. The building will house UWinnipeg’s Faculty of Business and Economics, Division of Continuing Education Professional Programs, and Global College, and Plug-In Institute of Contemporary Art.

The construction of this remarkable new building will provide both the city and province with access to the most engaging art being talked about in the world today,” said Anthony Kiendl, Director, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art.” We will also share with our communities and visitors the remarkable artwork being made right here with much wider audiences and at a much higher profile-a recognition which our artists in Manitoba deserve. With our new neighbours, Winnipeg Art Gallery and University of Winnipeg, we will create a site of visual arts activity beyond comparison in Canada. 460 Portage Avenue will be a place to meet, see, create and think about new ideas, events and opportunities.”

We are consolidating and strengthening our downtown campus while at the same time adding creative capacity to our surrounding neighbourhood so that not only our students but downtown office workers and residents benefit,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “We are a major anchor in downtown redevelopment and this new, eastern face allows our strong business and arts programs to be highly visible and accessible.”

We are delighted to join The University of Winnipeg in erecting an architecturally significant building on this noted crossroads site,” said Plug In Board Vice President, Meeka Walsh. “Education and the arts are integral partners in enriching the life of all cities. This joint project is the ideal embodiment of a pairing which will enhance and augment Winnipeg’s earned reputation as a centre for creativity and excellence.”

The Province of Manitoba is providing loan support to UWinnipeg and Plug In to make the construction of the 460 Portage Avenue project possible.

The partnership between the university, the art gallery and the province in building this beautiful, energy efficient building is a perfect example of the innovative relationships that will help Winnipeg thrive and benefit all Manitobans,” said Andrew Swan, Minister of Competitiveness, Training and Trade. “Here is a building that will bring together artists, students and educators in a creative mix that will bring new life to an important intersection of the city.”

FEATURES:  460 Portage Avenue

  • Construction of an eco-friendly, three-storey, 37,500-square foot building on the former United Army Surplus site costing approximately $12-million begins fall 2009.
  • The architects are DPA+PSA+DIN Collective.
  • The foundation is designed to accommodate a fourth floor for future development.
  • The building will house UWinnipeg’s Division of Continuing Education Professional Programs, portions of UWinnipeg’s Faculty of Business and Economics and Plug-In Institute of Contemporary Art.
  • Costs will be split between the University (2/3 – paid for by donations and rent) and Plug-In (1/3).
  • Generous donations to the Faculty of Business and Economics include $250,000 from the Certified Management Accountants of Manitoba and $250,000 from the Manitoba Certified General Accountants Association.
  • UWinnipeg does not use operating funds to pay for new buildings. Campus improvements are funded through active fundraising and are possible because of generous alumni and community donors, as well as loan support from the Province of Manitoba.
  • Revenues recovered from the Division of Continuing Education’s third-party lease in the Massey Building will now be used to support the project.
  • The building is slated to open in the fall 2010.


Established in 1972, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is a centre for the presentation of art that confronts ideas and issues affecting contemporary society. Plug In seeks to engage visitors from all walks of life through award-winning exhibitions, publications, public programs, and professional development opportunities. Plug In ICA continues to evolve and build upon its role as a research institution, and proximity to the university campus will enhance research activities. Plug In’s participation in the 460 Portage Ave development is possible because of support from The Winnipeg Foundation, the Department of Canadian Heritage which supported preliminary design and feasibility studies, the City of Winnipeg and private donors and volunteers.