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Monday, August 22, 2011

Sauder School of Business



Sauder School of Business in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada by Acton Ostry Architects, 2010

Photographs are by Nic Lehoux.

The Vancouver campus of the 100-year-old University of British Columbia (UBC) is located at the western tip of the Point Grey Peninsula, a dramatic site surrounded by forests on three sides and overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the fourth side. At about 1,000 acres (400 hectares) the campus is large, but it is also green, earning Canada's first Gold rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). The renewal and expansion of the Sauder School of Business by Acton Ostry Architects is a standout building in the campus-wide efforts to reduce carbon emissions, reduce waste, reduce water usage, and increase public transit and walking.

Located in the center of the campus, the new design greets students on the Main Mall with a long glass elevation that "embeds and reflects the rhythm, cadence and pattern language associated with the universal transfer of digital commerce and business information -- a barcode." This facade, which extends around the corner to the south, wraps the existing complex to create a strong image for the school. Regardless of any rational for the glazing pattern and colors, the new exterior manages to unify the disparate collection of dated school buildings.
Our design approach incorporates new technologies and materials that contribute to the realization of projects rooted in a considered, modernist idiom that offer sustenance to those who inhabit and experience them. -Acton Ostry Architects
Besides the new glazed elevation, the main elements in the project are a new five-story volume to the west, a completely renovated ground floor, and a central atrium. The last links old and new and creates a new circulation spine for the school whose spaces have have accrued over time. The narrow space also serves as a helpful wayfinding device by drawing ones attention to the daylight that enters from above and diffuses the building. On the ground floor the atrium stands out because the architects have opened this level dramatically, expressing it through the lime-green columns and bracing that hold up the existing building overhead. One can enter the building and see all the way into the new building through the atrium. Another nice touch is the donor program, which uses currency symbols as pixels that paints the likeness of the donors, reminiscent of the visage of Mies van der Rohe at the entrance to IIT's student center.

Returning to the building's green features, the school taps into a campus-wide steam system for heating, but also utilizes waste steam from the campus heating plant. One area in which this happens is the lecture halls. On the flip side, the building is cooled by a steam absorption chiller that operates via waste steam from the plant. So, as the architects put it, "much of the building uses scavenged energy," helping the project to earn an SAB Canadian Green Building Award. The first phase of the project was completed in 2010, with the second and third phases -- the renovation of the rest of the existing -- expected to be complete by the end of 2011.

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