UBC opens newly renovated and expanded $91-million Life Sciences building (PHOTOS)

Jan 17 2020, 10:03 pm

Another phase of construction has reached completion on the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Biological Sciences Centre, now formally known as the Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories.

The grand opening was held this week for the building at 6270 University Boulevard — located at the prominent southeast corner of the intersection of University Boulevard and Main Mall within the core of the campus.

Over the last few years, sections of the aging structure were demolished. The 40-year-old north wing’s 59,000 sq. ft. of floor area was renovated, while 57,600 sq. ft. was renewed space, and 97,600 sq. ft. was an expansion as the result of a brand new four-storey east wing.

The complex of new and renovated buildings form a quadrangle, framing the new and expanded inner courtyard. A gateway entrance into the complex and courtyard from Martha Piper Plaza features a fully glazed cantilevered lounge and a sheltered wood soffit beneath the structure.

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories. (Diamond Schmitt Architects)

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories. (Diamond Schmitt Architects)

Exterior facade elements of the building feature a biophilic design inspired by the biosciences program, incorporating frit patterns on glazing modelled on stem cell image and natural details such as the patterns on dragonfly wings.

Additionally, new building systems that improve the complex’s energy efficiency could provide the project with a LEED Gold green building certification.

“Sustainable initiatives informed our design to create a highly functional and aesthetic environment for the Biosciences Complex, inspired by connections to nature and connections with the campus to reinforce the significant role of this facility at UBC,” said Donald Schmitt, principal of Diamond Schmitt Architects, in a statement.

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories. (Diamond Schmitt Architects)

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories. (Diamond Schmitt Architects)

This project effectively allows for the consolidation of all undergraduate life and biological sciences at the Vancouver campus into one complex, including botany, zoology, microbiology, immunology, physiological sciences, biochemistry, and molecular biology.

It has created modernized physical spaces for faculty and over 2,600 students in UBC‘s life-sciences programs, such as state-of-the-art and spacious teaching laboratories, and modern classrooms and study areas that enhance the potential for collaboration and hands-on learning.

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories. (Diamond Schmitt Architects)

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories

UBC Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories. (Diamond Schmitt Architects)

The project carried a construction cost of $91.4 million, with $32.5 million provided by the federal government, $11.8 million from the provincial government, and $47.1 million from UBC.

UBC president and vice chancellor Santa Ono says the new and renovated facilities will allow the university to “attract leading life-sciences researchers and ensure our students are inspired to innovate and discover in exceptional learning facilities.”

Renovations to the original Biological Sciences Centre’s west and south wings were completed in 2011 at a cost of $61.8 million, bringing the entire cost of the complex’s multi-phase renovation and expansion to about $153 million.