Inside the new UBC Arts Student Centre (PHOTOS)

Feb 9 2022, 3:20 am

A standalone building that provides much-needed amenity and gathering spaces for students in the Faculty of Arts at the University of British Columbia (UBC) recently reached completion.

The Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall — the northeast corner of the intersection of East Mall and Walter Gage Road, immediately south of the Peter Allard School of Law building — first opened in November 2021, and a grand opening is now scheduled for March 2022.

The three-storey, multi-purpose cylindrical building provides 10,700 sq ft of space for studying, socializing, and events.

This includes a lounge-like common area with sofas on the ground level, the new replacement Meekison Arts Student Space for events and gatherings on the second level, and bookable meeting rooms, work spaces, and lounge chairs on the third level. All of the building’s spaces revolve around an atrium.

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Ema Peter Photography)

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Ema Peter Photography)

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Ema Peter Photography)

Arts students also have access to an arts room with worktables, printers, and stationery for group projects, a kitchen with microwaves, and accessible universal bathrooms. Clubs in the faculty benefit from not only the bookable space, but also lockers to store equipment.

The building is designed by Leckie Studio Architecture and Design, which conceptualized a steel structure using wood materials to create warmth, and a glass facade to allow natural light to pour in. Vertical metal fins on the exterior help prevent bird strikes, and minimize heat solar gain.

As well, the black exterior facade provides the pavilion-like structure with a bold visual contrast to the adjacent buildings,

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Ema Peter Photography)

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Ema Peter Photography)

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Ema Peter Photography)

The project was first conceptualized by the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) in 2012, when the Meekison Arts Student Space within the ground level of the Buchanan Block D building was deemed insufficient for the growing student needs in the faculty.

The Faculty of Arts is UBC’s largest faculty, with over 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students — comparable to the entire enrolled population of 20,000 students at the Burnaby Mountain campus of Simon Fraser University.

Arts students approved the building in a 2013 referendum, but there was some uncertainty on the project for several years, specifically over the precise location of the facility, which was originally proposed for an area south of Brock Hall.

In June 2020, UBC’s board of governors provided the final green light to proceed with Arts Student Centre’s construction at a cost of about $10 million, with the university administration contributing $1.5 million. Another $3 million was provided by the Faculty of Arts administration, and the AUS covered up to $5.8 million through an annual student fee approved through the referendum.

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Paul Joseph/UBC)

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Paul Joseph/UBC)

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Paul Joseph/UBC)

arts student centre ubc faculty of arts aus

UBC Arts Student Centre at 1860 East Mall. (Paul Joseph/UBC)

Although the Arts Student Centre is now complete, the area will remain an active construction site for a few more years as the adjacent sites immediately to the east and south are being redeveloped for the second phase of the Brock Commons residence. This includes the demolition of Brock Hall Annex across the street.

Brock Commons II will contain 325,000 sq ft of floor area across 18-storey and 13-storey towers, containing a combined total of about 600 student beds and over 90,000 sq ft of classroom space, university administration office space, and childcare. This project saw some delays due to the pandemic.

Within the same general vicinity, UBC is also planning to build a new additional student recreation centre immediately north of the Life Building, the former Student Union Building. The $66-million, 101,000 sq ft, three-storey building will include fitness gym areas, non-varsity gymnasiums, multi-purpose rooms, and an indoor walking track.

ubc arts student centre new

2020 artistic rendering of the new UBC Arts Student Centre, with the future Brock Commons Phase Two buildings to the east and south. (Leckie Studio Architecture + Design/UBC)

ubc new recreation centre

Artistic rendering of the New Recreation Centre at UBC Vancouver. (SHAPE Architecture/UBC)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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