Perkins&Will unveils new projects on two B.C. university campuses

Two British Columbia universities are raising the bar for the health and well being of its students and faculty members. Designed by Perkins&Will, the University of Victoria’s new mixed-use complex set passive house precedent, and a new gateway building at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus transforms the arrival experience.

The University of Victoria’s (UVic) new Student Housing and Dining project is one of the largest projects in Canada designed to achieve the Passive House standard.

Assessed by the Passive House Institute, the complex’s two buildings passed the design stage review. The nearly 31,000-square-metre (333,000-square-foot) mixed-use complex includes a mix of housing, dining, academic, and conference spaces.

Designed to raise the bar for high performance, the facility exceeds Step 5 of British Columbia’s Energy Step Code, the highest level of energy efficiency in the province. The new complex reduces the net carbon footprint by 90 per cent while increasing capacity by over 600 beds.

The landscape emphasizes Indigenous planting and natural ecology. Rendering Courtesy of Perkins&Will.

Going beyond Passive House, the facility is designed to provide thermal comfort in a 2050 climate. A mix of natural and mechanical ventilation using high efficiency heat recovery ventilators, as well as both manual and automatic operable windows, reduces energy consumption. Even with the windows closed, student bedrooms receive 100 per cent filtered outdoor air, says Perkins&Will.

With a commitment to promote health and well-being, a number of strategies are implemented. Optimizing access to daylight, window ratios are balanced to meet thermal performance targets, allowing for generous floor to ceiling windows in public areas. Enhanced thermal insulation also provides acoustic separation from exterior noise, and mechanical equipment noise is kept to a minimum.

Rendering Courtesy of Perkins&Will.

Materials were reviewed against the firm’s Precautionary List ensuring healthy materials were selected, rounding out the holistic approach to sustainability by eliminating harmful substances.

Designed by Perkins&Will’s Vancouver practice in collaboration with the firm’s Denmark studio, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, UBC’s 25,000-square-metre (270,000-square-foot) health science academic and research building will co-locate the School of Nursing, School of Kinesiology, Integrated Student Health Services, and components of UBC Health and Language Sciences, strengthening academic programs through opportunities for collaboration

Targeting completion in 2024, the building includes a mix of spaces ranging from wet and dry labs, clinical spaces, lecture theatres and classrooms, gym and fitness facilities, as well as office and administrative functions.

The project centres around a design that considers needs from students, faculty, staff and members of the greater community that represent all ages—through clear and accessible circulation paths, inclusive washrooms and change rooms, and spaces that incorporate natural materials.

Acting on UBC’s commitment to Indigenous reconciliation, the project aims to acknowledge the host nation’s past and current presence and serves as a catalyst and model for future Musqueam engagement on campus.

The design intends to express commonalities between Musqueam values, culture, and learning and the UBC Gateway environmental and wellness goals. The building will offer a generous, naturally-lit, welcoming environment for human comfort, and take inspiration from traditional Musqueam building materials and design. The building will be set in a landscape that considers the site-specific ecology, and the role of the land beneath the pavement and its plant life in supporting human wellness and learning.

Rendering Courtesy of Perkins&Will.

A central daylight-filled six-storey atrium with large interconnecting stairs reaching from the basement to the upper floors encourages physical activity. Conceived as an extension of the public realm and the social heart of the building community, the atrium’s open layout and visible central spaces will help to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and extensive windows on the ground floor will provide an immediate connection to the landscaped outdoor environment. In addition, the project will use nontoxic materials and finishes.

The Gateway building supports UBC’s sustainability goals and commitments and aims to be the university’s first building to meet the Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC) Zero Carbon Building Standard, which includes passive design strategies such as a high-performance envelope, high efficiency mechanical systems, and reduced embodied carbon. It is also targeting a minimum of LEED v4 Gold certification.

As a way to lower the embodied carbon of the project, the design team has proposed using exposed mass timber for the building’s structure.