Alberta College of Art and Design 411: Where to find the best cheap lunch and more

Alberta College of Art and Design 411

An insider’s perspective on life at ACAD


Alberta College of Art and Design

Unofficial school motto:

‘I have no idea what I’m doing’

Best place for a nap:

Fifth-floor couches by the photocopier

Alberta College of Art and Design Brandon Giessmann

Best cheap lunch:

Pizza in Kensington

Best hangover breakfast:

Eggs benedict at OEB Breakfast Co.

Favourite watering hole:

The Gateway at SAIT or Kensington Pub

Perks of living in this town:

It’s clean and sunny

Best place to study:

Luke Lindoe Library

Weirdest tradition:

I honestly don’t think traditions exist in this school, everyone is too hipster

Best campus event:

Valentina Drag Ball

Best giveaway:

Pop-up tables with free stuff, including supplies, by other students

Best live music venue:

It depends on what you’re into. I’ve heard Commonwealth Bar is pretty good, as is the Jack Singer Concert Hall and the Palomino. Festivals like X-Fest are amazing as well.

University Insider: Brandon Giessmann, 21, Fine Arts—Printmaking

What ACAD lacks in curb appeal it makes up for in an environment that allows students to explore their interests through art (which basically means however you want). The building features a stairwell, dedicated to graffiti, that is covered in paint and profanities from the first floor to the fifth, and plain brick walls both inside and out. We also have a bookstore (it sells art supplies, too), wood shop, metal shop, printmaking studio, glass-blowing studio, library and cafeteria. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, our lovely next-door neighbour, has a gym, pool, bar, and even more options for food that you can (and should) take advantage of. You will find art everywhere, except during the holidays when ACAD essentially becomes a graveyard (so if you come to check us out, come during the school year).

PROFILE: Alberta College of Art + Design | Calgary, Alta. | Founded 1926

Boasting a population of roughly 1,200, students and professors form relationships beyond the classroom. With 11 undergraduate programs and three degrees—bachelor of fine art, bachelor of design, and masters of fine art in craft media—you can experiment. Have you really wanted to try blowing into a metal tube with molten glass on the other end? You can do that. In your third and fourth years you get personal studio space where you can work and store all your crap (with the exception of design students—sorry). You can also nap there, which will definitely happen. If you want to be exposed to a wide variety of art and an interesting assortment of people, ACAD is a potential match.


Student-run galleries are common here and give ACAD students the chance to display and share their work. Opening and closing receptions also usually mean free food, and possibly drinks.

Want to try selling some art? Check out ACAD Student Association’s biannual Show and Sale, where ACAD VIPs and the general public can see and purchase your work.

With a C-train station attached to the building, getting here is a breeze and heading downtown for a night out is fairly simple, especially with the U-Pass that covers public transit for the semester, which is included in your tuition. There are also several parkades in the area, including one at ACAD (beware: it is expensive), so driving is also an option.

Local Vibe

Calgary is a growing cultural hub; we’re not New York or Toronto, but we’re getting better. It’s commonly ranked the sunniest city in the country on top 10 lists, which makes the dry weather more tolerable. People are friendly and interested in the arts, with plenty of artist-run centres, galleries, and theatres hosting events. The mountains are a short drive away, making it easy to grab your friends and go skiing or hiking. The nightlife is decent with several clubs, a lot of bars, and live-music venues throughout the city.

The Skinny

Check out to get a better feel for what ACAD has to offer and for info on events and jobs for students.


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