Construction of the C.A.S.T. Building

 Construction image

Early Rendering of C.A.S.T. by Herbert Enns
Warehouse Journal 8


The C.A.S.T. Building is the first building constructed for the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture since 1959. It marks a new beginning in architectural education and research. There is no other architectural laboratory quite like it.

The project began in 1989 with a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) in support of Prof. Mark West’s research with flexible fabric formworks for concrete structures. This grant provided a total of  $350,000 (CN) to buy tools and equipment, and to construct a modest prefabricated metal building. The construction budget in this original grant consisted of $70,000 (CN) in in-kind donations from Winnipeg area construction companies, and $87,000 (CN) in cash. The C.A.S.T. Laboratory as it stands today is now worth nearly $1.5 million (CN).

The realization of C.A.S.T. is the result of three primary forces:

First, was the desire on the part of the Faculty of Architecture and the Director of C.A.S.T. to transform this erstwhile fabric formwork laboratory into a more inclusive and ambitious architectural research laboratory. The vision for a new kind of architectural education called for a facility that could support and sustain that vision.

Second, the Faculty of Architecture made a commitment to construct something more than a utilitarian structure; it was strongly felt that the building should be a work of architecture.

Third, the C.A.S.T. Building project received extraordinary support from the Canadian construction industry and from Provincial and Federal levels of government. Early support from a small number of companies and industry associations including the Canadian Masonry Research Institute, The Canadian Sheet Steel Building Institute, Mr. Maurice Steele, MD Steele Construction, and other local contractors and suppliers, allowed us to launch an ambitious program of construction, simultaneously accompanied by fundraising efforts to meet the financial demands of the project. Eventually over 100 companies, industry associations, government agencies, and individuals contributed to this project.