UBC Life Sciences is set for expansion

Diamond Schmitt Architects in association with CEI Architecture will reconfigure and expand University of British Columbia’s Life Sciences Undergraduate Teaching Labs.

The $51.8-million project will renew the Biological Sciences complex located at the heart of the Vancouver campus. Both new and renovated buildings will provide connectivity and opportunity for interdisciplinary learning around an expanded courtyard.

The project includes the renewal and addition of new greenhouse facilities to the fourth floor of the Biological Sciences North Wing (1976), and a four-storey link between it and Biological Sciences West. The Biological Sciences Centre Block (1948) and a two-storey workshop (1976) will be replaced by a four-storey building on the east side of the courtyard. The courtyard will undergo a comprehensive expansion and renewal as part of the project.

These additions will provide flexible, modern teaching labs, associated classrooms, group and informal learning spaces and instructor/support offices for the Biology and Biological Sciences programs and also incorporate Microbiology, Biochemistry and Cellular and Physiological Sciences teaching programs. Existing mechanical and electrical facilities will be upgraded along with seismic, life safety and Building Code enhancements. The new facilities are being designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Says John Scott, principal, CEI Architecture, “This is an exciting opportunity to enhance UBC’s science teaching facilities with flexible and modern spaces for hands-on learning.” 

The total area for the new spaces, including rooftop research and teaching greenhouse space, is approximately 175,000 gross square feet. The project builds on the successful renewal of the Biological Sciences West and South Wings completed in 2011.

Says Donald Schmitt, principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects, “CEI and Diamond Schmitt look forward to renewing UBC’s Life Sciences teaching labs with state-of-the-art facilities and learning environments that align with advances in pedagogy.” 

The two design firms have previously collaborated on the UBC Faculty of Law at Allard Hall (2011), Burnaby’s Tommy Douglas Library (2009) and the North Vancouver Civic Library (2008). All three projects have won multiple industry awards. The North Vancouver Civic Library earned a Lieutenant-Governor of BC Award of Merit in 2009.


CEI Architecture (http://www.ceiarchitecture.com/) is a leading architecture and design firm in Western Canada, noted for education, recreation, healthcare and community facilities. Significant current and recent projects include the William Griffin Recreation Centre in North Vancouver, Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College in Penticton, and Teck Acute Care Centre at BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital.


Diamond Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) is a full-service architectural firm based in Toronto with an international reputation for design excellence and sustainable design solutions. An extensive portfolio includes academic buildings, libraries, performing arts centres, sports facilities, master plans, residential and commercial buildings. Equally extensive is work completed for the healthcare sector, with life science facilities, research laboratories and hospitals.