The development permit board for the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus recently approved an application to build a new six-storey rental housing building.
It is half of a two-building complex by UBC Properties Trust in Wesbrook Village dedicated to providing rental homes to faculty and staff of the university. Both buildings, creating a combined total of 254 rental homes, are located adjacent to the future research office cluster of South Campus.
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The building at the BCR9 site at 5768 Gray Avenue — near the southeast corner of the intersection of Wesbrook Mall and Gray Avenue — was approved in late October 2020. It will contain 144 rental homes, with a unit mix of 14 studio units, 23 one-bedroom units, 59 two-bedroom units, 28 three-bedroom units, and 20 four-bedroom units.
Immediately to the west next to the intersection’s corner, the form of the new six-storey building, named Evolve, at the BCR8 site at 3515 Wesbrook Mall will be a near mirror image of the BCR8 site. This building, approved in September 2019 and currently under construction, will have 110 units, including 16 studio units, 28 one-bedroom units, 36 two-bedroom units, 24 three-bedroom units, and six four-bedroom units.
Both L-shaped buildings form an internal courtyard that provides residents with outdoor amenity space, and each building will also have about 1,000 sq. ft. of indoor amenity space.
While both buildings are designed by ZGF Architects, they carry some unique design differences.
BCR8 will be constructed to a Passive House green building standard, including the feature of covering the rooftop with hundreds of solar panels, while BCR9 will resemble a conventional wood frame structure.
“The finer detail and urban design being developed throughout this project aims to be complement with the existing built form, public realm, and landscape character of Wesbrook Village,” reads the architect’s design rationale for BCR9.
“The project offers ground-orientated dwelling units throughout the scheme with unique unit addressing and lighting, creating a strong identity and presence along Gray Avenue and the mew leading to the future research park, as well as the inner courtyard.”
The buildings will have a single shared underground parkade level with a combined total of 172 vehicle parking stalls and over 600 bike parking spaces accessible by a shared driveway.
The total floor area of both buildings combined is 230,000 sq. ft., creating a floor space ratio density of 2.8 times the size of the 82,200 sq. ft. lot.
Currently, UBC has over 800 on-campus rental homes dedicated to full-time faculty and staff at below-market rents, and over 800 market rental homes for faculty, staff, and the general public at market rents.
The university’s housing action plan establishes that up to 30% of future campus housing will be rental, and at least 20% will be restricted to faculty and staff at below-market rents. There will also be a rent-geared-to-income program for low-income staff, an on-campus faculty home ownership program, and eligibility for faculty down payment assistance.
As well, the university has doubled down on building additional student housing capacity, although some major projects have been deferred due to COVID-19.
UBC’s Vancouver campus has approximately 12,000 student beds, but as of early this term there was an occupancy rate of just 44%. Typically, there is a 6,000 person waitlist each year for on-campus student housing.