Fraser Building Expansion and Renovation

An expansion for the Fraser Building is being planned to better accommodate a new program in the Faculty of Law. Image: UVic photo services.

Planning for a National Centre for Indigenous Laws

The university has begun planning for an expansion to the Fraser Building to house a national centre for Indigenous laws. The centre will provide much-needed academic and support space for the Canadian Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders program (JD/JID) and Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU). By expanding the Fraser Building, the university will enhance the experience and success of JD and JD/JID students, and will serve as a national centre for dialogue, research, and knowledge transfer.

The JD/JID program launched in September 2018, with a 25-student cohort entering the four-year program. The JD/JID program is the first of its kind in Canada, is unique globally, and will further the university’s reputation by training legal professionals to work across Indigenous and non-Indigenous legal traditions.  

Planning for this program and this project has been ongoing for several years, and significant work has been invested in visioning for the program and project. For more information please click on the documents tab at the bottom of this page.

To support the upcoming NCIL expansion - sprinkler and heating system upgrades at the Fraser Building are to be implemented in 2022.


Federal funding announcement at UVic June 25, 2019.

(L-R) John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law; The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; Val Napoleon, Director, JD/JID Program and Law Foundation Chair of Indigenous Justice and Governance; Amanda Vick, JD/JID student; Susan Breau, UVic Dean of Law; Dr. Skip Dick, Songhees Nation Elder; Gayle Gorrill, UVic VP Finance and Operations. 

Photo: UVic Photo Services. 

Project updates

The second round of engagement is now complete. Feedback from the survey, held from Nov. 25 - Dec. 2,  will help to inform the next set of architectural designs. Engagement summaries can be found in the documents tabs below.

Engagement on the detailed designs is being planned for the fall of 2021. Watch this page for online renderings and an online survey!

Project vision

UVic is located on the traditional territories of the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ Nations. Rooted in the JD/JID program four purposes – convening, sharing, stimulating, researching – and grounded in an understanding of Indigenous Laws as a living practice, the project seeks to:

  • Build physical space for the celebration of Indigenous Laws;
  • Build culturally appropriate space; and
  • Weave the four purposes together in the expansion: convening, sharing, stimulating, researching.
Program guiding principles.

Timeline and engagement


Community engagement

Community engagement is an essential component of planning for the Fraser Expansion. The public engagement process for the centre will follow the University of Victoria Community Engagement Framework that was designed with input from our neighbours and stakeholders. 

Engagement with the campus and broader community began in fall 2019. Engagement is planned throughout the project. Online engagement events on the conceptual design for the building expansion  occurred this Fall 2020. Engagement is also planned for the detailed design phase of the project, in the Spring of 2021. Construction is estimated to start in the winter of 2021/2022 with occupancy expected in the Fall of 2023.

All engagement materials, links and engagement reports will be added to this website in the documents tab.

Indigenous engagement

Engagement with local Indigenous communities is based on long-standing relationships that the university has maintained for many years. From these relationships, specific engagement regarding the Fraser Expansion was initiated from May 2018 – January 2019 with the aim to inform local communities of the project, provide an opportunity for feedback, and inform how their feedback would be used to shape the building program. This engagement was conducted by representatives from the Faculty of Law. Engagement with these communities continues throughout the various stages of the project.

About the project

What's included

The expansion and renovation will be a National Centre for critical engagement, debate, learning, public education and partnerships of Indigenous legal traditions. It will foster the fundamental values of Indigenous societies of respecting the natural environment and interacting with the landscape to support the practice of law that honours the land.   

The Centre will house classrooms, research and office facilities, and ceremony spaces. The project scope also includes upgrades to the existing Fraser building which will bring students, faculty and staff access to end-of-trip facilities (i.e. showers and change rooms) and secure bike storage in the new building. Sprinkler and heating system upgrades at the Fraser Building are to be implemented alongside the expansion project. 

Site location

The location of the expansion is proposed to be shifted from the south of the existing building to the south east of the existing building to:

  1. Preserve of old growth and high quality trees - The forest to the south of the building, which was the proposed site area of the feasibility study, contains the oldest and highest quality trees on the site. Building in this location would effectively remove the majority of these trees and thus affect the quality of the forest and all that it offers. By shifting the program to the north the building can effectively move away from development to the south, thus affecting less high quality trees and the continuity of the forest.
  2. Respect the watershed and Bowker Creek - The topography on the south side of the site is significant in its slope towards the catchment of Bowker Creek. Building in the original location would have increased structural foundations as well as increased impact on the Bowker Creek system.
  3. Connect with the Existing Fraser Building - By shifting the program towards the existing building main entrance there is the opportunity to create a full building circulation system that allows for ease of movement and connection between the existing building and the new addition. This allows for a building and program that will feel integrated and not silo’d. This also provides for a refresh of the existing Fraser Building main entry, which was a desire documented in the 2019 Feasibility Study.
  4. Activate on Ring Road - The location of the new addition provides a presence on Ring Road that clearly identifies the Fraser Building as a part of the campus. This location also provides a clear link to the inner Ring Road aligning with pedestrian traffic coming from the heart of the campus. This move supports the 2016 Campus Plan.
  5. Improved Way-finding - The location of the new entrance clearly orients you to understanding of the building as soon as you walk into it. Further, alignment with the Library corridor allows for a clear sightline into the south end of the building. A visual connection through many parts of the building allow for a clear sense of where you are when you are in the building. This move supports a commitment to walkability; 2019 Campus Plan.
  6. Increase Area for Learning Deck - By pulling the building out of the forest there is an opportunity to increase the size of the learning deck. The deck, unlike the building, can have a lighter touch around the trees which will allow it to penetrate further into the forest without being destructive.
Current location and footprint of the Fraser Building.
New proposed location of the expansion on the south east of the existing building.



Architectural designs

The building is in the conceptual design phase, the feedback received from the Virtual Open House will be used to refine the designs.

The design concept interconnects at two locations to the existing building. The proposed design highlights include:

  1. Renovation area with end-of-trip facilities, lounge, classroom, meeting rooms, offices and storage
  2. Existing entry which will connect new and existing building space
  3. Extended forest for natural views from the existing Fraser building and new expansion
  4. Outdoor learning deck with views and a connection to the forest
  5. Expansion has presence on Ring Road and a unified welcoming façade
  6. Additional entry to the expansion lobby providing easy access from Ring Road
  7. Second floor sky classrooms with views above
  8. Circulation in atrium is open to below with study nooks and views

You can find more information on the Open House Boards, located at the bottom of the page in the "Documents" tab. 

Expansion rendering as seen from Ring Road. 
Expansion rendering as seen from South Woods. 



Landscape designs

The landscape designs are in the early stages, the feedback received from the Virtual Open House will be used to refine these designs.

Design highlights include:

  1. Retention of existing forest
  2. The sea – welcome rainwater collection pond
  3. The shore elders garden
  4. Extending the forest –courtyard
Proposed landscape designs. The numbers in the image correspond to the numbered list of design highlights above. 


The Landscape design is rooted in the principles of the UVic Sustainability Action Plan and best practices for environmental stewardship and management.

The project’s Environmental Stewardship Strategy maximizes the retention of trees on the site. Removed trees are replaced at a minimum 2:1 ratio on campus, UVic is targeting 3:1 replacement for this project.

Transportation infrastructure

Active Transportation Infrastructure

Campus Cycling Plan directions have been incorporated into the expansion design including:

  • Covered and uncovered bike parking stalls;
  • End-of-trip facilities such as showers and lockers; and
  • A 3m wide cycling path and a 2m wide pedestrian pathway fronting the building to the northeast.

Overall, the project aims to support sustainable transportation choices. 



The project will require a parking variance approval from the District of Oak Bay for 25 stalls.

At this time it is anticipated that the project will not displace or add any parking stalls. The parking demand created by this new program is anticipated to be small.  

Students, faculty and staff will have access to end-of-trip facilities and secure bike storage in the new building. In addition, students entering the JD and JD/JID program will receive a universal bus pass for the duration of their degree providing them with unlimited use of the Greater Victoria Transit System.


The project will be designed and constructed to target the CaGBC LEED Gold certification for new construction. Opportunities to further demonstrate sustainable design and construction innovation will be explored during the design process. The project is informed by best practices for environmental stewardship and management.

The building will aim to respect and learn from the environment through approaches such as utilizing mass timber, considerations to solar orientation and benefits, and on-site storm-water management. The use of mass timber will contribute to the building’s overall sustainability goal by providing a carbon sink and reduction in emissions from prefabricated construction materials. Infrastructure to encourage students, staff and faculty to cycle to campus, such as lockers, showers and bike parking, will also be included. 

The university has a long history of leadership in sustainability. The campus has received international attention for our commitment to green campus operations, interdisciplinary research, real life learning opportunities and innovative community partnerships. The university integrates sustainability practices and a culture of shared responsibility into all areas of its operations and services. 

UVic strives to maintain a campus that fosters an energy conservation culture that utilizes innovative technologies and engages occupants to continually improve building performance as well as providing comfortable living, learning and work environments. 

Project team 

The project has been awarded to an Architectural Prime Consultant led by Two Row Architect in partnership with Teeple Architects and Low, Hammond, Row Architects. Multiple sub-consultants support this project consisting of an expansion and renovation to the existing Fraser Building. Two Row is an Indigenous-owned and operated firm from Six Nations of the Grand River reserve in southern Ontario.

For further information contact Mike Wilson, Director - Campus Planning and Sustainability at 250-472-5433 or  

Community engagement is an essential part of planning for the Fraser Expansion. The campus and neighbourhood association engagement process will follow the university’s Community Engagement Framework. 

The first round of campus engagement was held in October 2019, the project team engaged with 165 students, faculty and staff the project introduction, the site location, and opportunities for restoration of a natural ecosystem.