December 7, 2012

UBC Okanagan Arts and Sciences Building

Precast Imagineering

The University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan is located in Kelowna, B.C. The campus was originally used by Okanagan University College, founded in 1989 as a part of a government plan to improve access to post-secondary education in Canada. In the late 1990s, Okanagan University began lobbying to gain full university status. Degrees were originally awarded in partnership with other universities, and by 1995 the university began granting degrees in its own name.

Since 2011, UBC’s Okanagan campus has undergone a rapid $450-million expansion. A new science building (The Charles E. Fipke Centre for Innovative Research), University Centre, and Arts and Sciences Building were completed – including a building housing a live animal testing facility. An Engineering and Management Building and medical school buildings were also completed, and there are student residences still in various stages of construction.

UBC’s Arts and Sciences Building was part of a rapid campus expansion plan to accommodate 2,500 additional students by 2010. The 7,800-square-metre (84,000 square feet) five-storey structure includes research labs, classrooms, office space and two lecture halls. The project was designed by Vancouver-based Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd. in partnership with HMA Architects of Kelowna, with construction managed by Stuart Olson Dominion Construction.

The concrete structure was built with an exterior envelope of architectural precast wall panels, curtainwall glazing and brick veneer. Kasian Architecture chose a durable precast building material that reflected a clean progressive image for the learning facility. The architectural precast panels wrap the building in a contrasting grey precast concrete with a light sandblast finish. It was a natural fit to enhance the look of the other building materials.

Precast concrete is an architectural material with a unique combination of strength and versatility. In the hands of an imaginative designer and experienced precast fabricator, it can assume a rich variety of forms, textures and colours, while performing an array of structural and decorative roles.

Securing skilled trades has always been a challenging issue in the Okanagan Valley, and although UBC Properties employs local trades when possible, this is especially difficult when major projects are under way simultaneously. Using a local architectural precast concrete company, Lockwood Bros. Concrete Products, solved this problem.

Green Globes Award winner

In 2011, the UBC Okanagan Arts and Sciences Building was awarded the distinction of five Green Globes. The facility features a geothermal system with in-slab radiant heating and heat recovery units to keep heating and cooling costs down. A Strobic Air system for the research laboratories’ fume hoods helps to efficiently balance the supply and exhaust of air.

By implementing truly innovative strategies for laboratory design in a building type that demands heavy energy loads, this project received this honourable distinction. It features natural and displacement ventilation, passive design, a high performance facade, radiant heating and cooling, and thermal mass. The building also connects to the campus district energy system.

The Green Globes program aims to guide environmental performance integration in building design. The five-Green Globe standing is awarded only to select projects that embody true leadership in energy and design practices offering a new model for sustainable strategies. This was the second project at the campus to receive this distinction; the Fipke Centre for Innovative Research at UBC Okanagan also received five Green Globes (