400 beds at new UBC student housing complex set to open (PHOTOS)

Aug 18 2021, 2:15 pm

The final interior finishings are now in the process of being installed for the first two of five buildings at a new student residence complex at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus.

Nearly 400 new additional beds at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ — a unique Musqueam First Nation name for the student residence, also known as The Houses of Ones Belonging to the Saltwater (THOBS) — will be ready for students to move-in for the start of the new school year in September 2021. The complex was previously known as Pacific Residence.

When fully complete, THOBS will add a total of 884 student beds to the campus, mainly dedicated to upper-year undergraduate and graduate students. The complex is built on the former surface parking lots and informal green spaces of the Gage Towers residence along Student Union Boulevard and Wesbrook Mall, just north of TransLink’s UBC bus exchange and the Exchange residence. Student Union Boulevard was also narrowed and reconfigured for the development.

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater Tim Hortons

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

The first two buildings that will be ready for students over the coming weeks are Orca House and Sturgeon House, which are both located along Student Union Boulevard. Monthly rents range between $1,179 and $1,549.

The remaining three buildings — Herring House, Sea Otter House, and Octopus House — facing Wesbrook Mall are further behind in various construction stages, with one house possibly opening in late December 2021 and the final two houses in Spring 2022. The latter three buildings have about 500 beds.

“This residence complex when completed will consist of five houses, each one named for a sea creature that resides in salt water,” said UBC spokesperson Matthew Ramsey in an email to Daily Hive Urbanized.

As part of UBC’s reconciliation mission with the Musqueam, the names of the complex and houses are presented in both hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (the traditional language of the Musqueam) and English on building and wayfinding signage, and online.

“Collectively the six names are intended to convey themes of sustainability, biodiversity, cooperation and individuality.”

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater Tim Hortons

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

The ground levels of the buildings will incorporate common social spaces, fitness areas, and other amenities for residents.

Orca House, the westernmost building of the complex, includes one prominent corner retail unit that will host the university’s third Tim Hortons restaurant, which is set to open in early September 2021.

The new buildings create an internal courtyard with the Gage Towers residences. Overall, the $165-million project has a total floor area of 334,000 sq ft, and about 200 underground vehicle parking stalls to meet the needs of not only THOBS but other new major residence complexes nearby and short-term guest parking. The project’s design firms are Hotson Architecture and Ryder Architecture, and a LEED Gold green building certification is targeted.

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

A year ago in September 2020, UBC’s student housing capacity of over 12,000 beds had an occupancy rate of just 44%.

With full in-class instruction resuming next month, Ramsey says student housing demand has seen a full rebound to its pre-pandemic levels. The campus’ student housing system is now at full capacity for the start of the school year, and the overall waitlist for residence has returned to its pre-pandemic level of 6,000 students.

The return in strong student housing demand is also seen in the Vancouver Westside, especially in Point Grey, where there are now relatively fewer online rental listings compared to earlier periods in the pandemic.

Ramsey notes the campus has already become much more lively, with the university recommending students in residence to return to campus earlier in August to avoid the rush and traffic of the Labour Day weekend.

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Under Step 3 of the provincial government’s restart plan, this year’s residence check-in process is more streamlined than the pre-pandemic strategy. Small group move-in orientation sessions have been replaced by online video clips prior to arrival. The university has also acquired additional large and sturdy move-in carts to assist arriving residences to efficiently transport their belongings from their vehicle.

“The interest in living in student residence has continued to be strong with the opening of additional residences over the past few years,” said Ramsey. “We look forward to having residents return to residence, campus, and classes.”

In September 2019, UBC opened its new Exchange residence of 651 beds above TransLink’s bus layover facility for the bus exchange.

The university also recently advanced the site preparation of the second phase of the Brock Commons residence by commencing demolition of the Brock Hall Annex. 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 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.

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Housing The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Construction progress on the UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, as of August 14, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

UBC Student Residence at 5955 Student Union Boulevard, named The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Map of the UBC student housing complex named “The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater.” (UBC)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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