UBC supersizes its new tower for downtown Kelowna campus (RENDERINGS)

Jun 27 2022, 3:44 pm

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is taking its plan to establish a new campus in downtown Kelowna to all new heights.

In fact, its mixed-use tower would be the new tallest building in Kelowna — even exceeding the future Water Street by the Park — and effectively, the tallest tower in BC outside of the Lower Mainland.

The university’s newly submitted revised application to the City of Kelowna for 550 Doyle Avenue calls for a 509-ft-tall (155 m) tower with 45 storeys. This is up from the original proposal for a 410-ft-tall (125 m) tower with 35 storeys.

The key difference with the revised concept is student housing, with all of the added height being the result of expanding the student residence — from the original proposal of 352 units to 503 units in the latest design.

The student residence between levels 12 to 46 will contain 335 studios, 68 one-bedroom units, and 100 two-bedroom units.

Level 11 remains dedicated to the amenity spaces and services of student housing residents. But with the greater needs of additional residents, more student amenity space has been provided, with a large portion of the 46th floor set aside for both indoor and outdoor amenity areas.

Original January 2022 design concept:

ubc downtown kelowna 550 doyle avenue

January 2022 artistic rendering of the UBC campus at 550 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna. (HCMA/UBC)

Revised June 2022 design concept:

550 doyle avenue kelowna downtown ubc campus hcma june 2022

June 2022 revised concept of the new UBC Okanagan campus tower at 550 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna. (HCMA/UBC)

The uses of the first 10 levels of the tower remain essentially the same for UBC Okanagan’s new downtown Kelowna academic campus, with a total of about 91,500 sq ft of space. This includes classrooms of varying sizes, specialized laboratories, and dozens of other rooms for breakout sessions, meetings, and offices.

Wedged between the academic campus and the student residence, two entire levels — ninth and 10th — will be temporarily left unused, reserved for a future academic expansion of about 20,000 sq ft.

These academic spaces are intended to be used by the School of Nursing, School of Health and Exercise Science, School of Social Work, Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship, UBC Vice President of Research, and the Wine Research Centre.

The tower’s ground level retains its active public and commercial uses, oriented around a three-storey atrium with a grand staircase to the academic campus. The ground level includes a cafe, gallery and display space, maker studio, and the first level of a two-storey, 7,300-sq-ft commercial retail unit, which is expected to be used as a medical clinic — providing on-site training opportunities for students in health-related studies.

Drastic improvements have been made to the internal public courtyard between the atrium and the St. Paul’s Street sidewalk. The original concept included an uncovered outdoor courtyard and a small one-storey cafe pavilion, but the revised concept removes the pavilion — relocating the cafe internally next to the atrium — and adds a two-storey-high roof cover over the courtyard. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows can slide open when the weather permits to open up the courtyard to the sidewalk.

The courtyard itself will be a welcoming place for students, building residents, and the public, with a fireplace and seating area. It is also expected to be an event-friendly space.

Original January 2022 design concept:

ubc downtown kelowna 550 doyle avenue

January 2022 artistic rendering of the UBC campus at 550 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna. (HCMA/UBC)

Revised June 2022 design concept:

550 doyle avenue kelowna downtown ubc campus hcma june 2022

June 2022 revised concept of the new UBC Okanagan campus tower at 550 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna. (HCMA/UBC)

550 doyle avenue kelowna downtown ubc campus hcma june 2022

June 2022 revised concept of the new UBC Okanagan campus tower at 550 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna. (HCMA/UBC)

550 doyle avenue kelowna downtown ubc campus hcma june 2022

June 2022 revised concept of the new UBC Okanagan campus tower at 550 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna. (HCMA/UBC)

550 doyle avenue kelowna downtown ubc campus hcma june 2022

June 2022 revised concept of the new UBC Okanagan campus tower at 550 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna. (HCMA/UBC)

Other than the tower’s vertical expansion and new covered public courtyard, the other major change deals with the architectural design.

Vancouver-based architectural firm HCMA has given the tower facade a scaly skin, with special attention provided to the St. Paul’s Street (northwest) facade, where there is a pattern of golden coloured metallic panels interwoven with blue glass.

This colour scheme is said to be inspired by the glistening and shimmering lake surface at sunrise or sunset, but it also matches UBC’s blue-and-yellow school colours.

This bold facade concept, combined with the building’s added height, is bound to make UBC Okanagan’s tower a visual landmark in downtown Kelowna’s emerging skyline.

550 doyle avenue kelowna downtown ubc campus hcma june 2022

June 2022 revised concept of the new UBC Okanagan campus tower at 550 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna. (HCMA/UBC)

550 doyle avenue kelowna downtown ubc campus hcma june 2022

June 2022 revised concept of the new UBC Okanagan campus tower at 550 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna. (HCMA/UBC)

UBC is also proposing to achieve a high degree of sustainability with the design of this tower. A LEED Gold certification would be supported by major green building features such as a rainwater collection system for non-potable water reuse. The grey water would go through a treating system for purification to a safe standard for toilets and landscaping irrigation.

Shower drain water within the residential levels would be discharged into a central tank connected to a heat recovery system to allow the heat to be extracted and repurposed for space heating and heating hot water.

Four underground levels will contain 292 vehicle parking stalls for all users and 603 secured bike parking spaces specifically for residents.

UBC is aiming to receive Kelowna City Council’s approval on a timeline that allows it to start construction in Fall 2022.

Original January 2022 design concept:

ubc downtown kelowna 550 doyle avenue

January 2022 artistic rendering of the UBC downtown Kelowna campus at 550 Doyle Avenue (right), and the proposed Mission Group towers (left). (HCMA/UBC)

Revised June 2022 design concept:

550 doyle avenue kelowna downtown ubc campus hcma june 2022

January 2022 artistic rendering of the UBC downtown Kelowna campus at 550 Doyle Avenue (right), and the proposed Mission Group towers (left). (HCMA/UBC)

The UBC tower, replacing the Daily Courier building, will be complemented by Mission Group’s adjacent 219-ft-tall, 16-storey tower with 122,500 sq ft of office space, located mid-block, and a 324-ft-tall, 30-storey tower with 287 homes. The separate development application for Mission Group’s portion of the redevelopment was also submitted in early 2022.

All three towers combined, including the UBC tower, will provide downtown Kelowna with a major catalyst for economic revitalization.

The university also has plans to double the size of the University of British Columbia-Okanagan (UBC-O) campus by 2040. Currently, the campus near Kelowna’s airport entails about one million sq ft of total floor area, and there are plans to add an additional one million sq ft by 2040, bringing the total size of the academic campus to approximately two million sq ft.

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