THE £44 million Pontio centre in Bangor will be an iconic Welsh building.
That was the view of Welsh Government Education and Skills Minister Leighton Andrews unveiled the foundation stone for the arts and innovation centre on Deiniol Road.
He said: “I was a student here in the 70s and I remember the old Theatr Gwynedd and Students' Union building, where I was a full time officer.
“The centre is going to be an iconic, environmentally friendly building, and a centre for arts and innovation in the area.
“I think it’s going to be a building that the whole of Wales can be proud of.”
The centre will receive £27.5 million of capital funding from the Welsh Government and European Regional Development Fund, as well as financial backing from the Arts Council of Wales and Bangor University.
It will provide a theatre, studio theatre, cinema, design and innovation studio, teaching and learning facilities, a new Students’ Union as well a bar, café and public spaces.
Bangor University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John G Hughes said delays in the project were caused by the European funding process.
However, he added: “This is going to be a focal point for the local community and the University alike – a place to meet, learn and be entertained as well as a home for innovative research, design and learning.
“It will be a unique place with the potential to transform Bangor.”
Renowned Rhys Meirion joined Bryn Terfel Scholarship winners Huw Ynyr and Lois Eifion and the Ysgol Tryfan Jazz Band to perform at the ceremony.
Bangor University chancellor Lord Elis-Thomas welcomed guests, who included city’s mayor, councillor Bryn Hughes.
Arfon AM Alun Ffred Jones also attended the event, and said: “It will be an important cultural facility for students and the local community, and will create much needed jobs.
“Along with the Science Park secured for Bangor in the recent assembly budget agreement, it demonstrates how the University is contributing to bring economic hope to the area in these difficult times”
Construction is scheduled to be completed in Easter 2013.