The reimagined and reconfigured Undergraduate Biosciences Complex at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver is now open.
Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects along with HDR, the new wing and renovation enhances interdisciplinary learning for a wide range of bioscience disciplines in light-filled spaces around a transformed quadrangle.
With state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories and versatile, active learning environments for 2000 students, the design unifies the complex while clarifying circulation and accessibility with two existing wings. Gains in energy efficiency also position the biosciences complex on track for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.
“Sustainable initiatives informed our design to create a highly functional and esthetic environment for the biosciences complex, inspired by connections to nature and with the campus to reinforce the significant role of this facility at UBC,” said Donald Schmitt, principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.
A gateway to the quadrangle features a fully glazed cantilevered lounge perched above the main northwest entrance that creates a welcoming arrival point beneath a sheltered wood soffit connecting to the courtyard, which was enlarged by the demolition of the centre wing, built in 1948. New landscape and hardscape energize this outdoor space and create a living laboratory for social, education, and research activities.
The new four-storey east wing and renovations to the 40-year-old north wing complete the quadrangle formed with the west and south wings, which were renewed in 2011. The new student labs feature custom casework and ventilation systems while classrooms, offices, and informal spaces achieve thermal comfort through a variety of energy-efficient means.
Biophilic design features inspired by the biosciences program include frit patterns on glazing modelled on a stem cell image and details found in nature, such as the patterns on dragonfly wings.