Over the past month or so, many of us in the UBCO community have been returning to campus for the first time in a long time. What we might remember as foundations rising from the earth are now completed structures. The lay of the land has definitely changed at UBC Okanagan!
Plant Growth Facility
Construction of the Plant Growth Facility began back in 2019 on UBCO’s West Campus lands. It opened in the fall of 2020 and boasts 5,100 square feet with capacity for more than 10,000 plants! The first plantings included breadfruit, lavender, grapevine, flax, and rhododendron. This unique complex was design-engineered to reduce energy consumption with evaporative cooling, reflective flooring and computerized ventilation. Among other initiatives, the Greenhouse will support research in ecological resistance, recovery and sustainability.
Say hello to Skeena. This shiny new residence adds 220 beds to UBCO’s student housing offerings. In addition to modified traditional bedrooms, this six-storey gem includes lounges, informal study spaces, an activity room, and laundry facilities. Skeena doesn’t just look good—it’s a groundbreaking achievement in sustainability, as UBC’s first project built to the internationally recognized Passivhaus standard. This certification focuses on the design, construction and operation of energy-efficient buildings, that use up to 90 per cent less space, heating and energy consumption than conventional buildings! With the approval of a pending application, Skeena will be the first student residence in Canada to achieve this certification.
Speaking of residences — have you heard about Nechako? This new six-storey residence is tucked neatly between University Centre and the Commons Field by F Lot. In addition to 220 beds, this facility has a commons block component that includes a 500-seat dining hall with a central kitchen which will help serve the needs of the overall campus community. There is also access to in-residence student essentials such as social amenities and study space. Nechako residence is on the path to becoming LEED Gold certified, meaning it will be in the higher echelon of 4,350 buildings in Canada that have been recognized for complying with numerous aspects of sustainability.
Research Data Centre
Located on the second floor of the Charles E. Fipke Centre for Innovative Research, is the brand new Statistics Canada Research Data Centre. Here, accredited researchers can gain secure access to anonymised microdata gathered through the Census program, population, social, and health surveys. The wide variety of data available includes a Canadian cancer registry, statistics on mental health, financial security and public health. This means researchers will have local access to the data they need to complement their research.
Now, this is the beginning of something really exciting. Located at 1540 Innovation Drive, is Building One of UBC Okanagan’s Innovation Precinct development. This collaborative space will facilitate innovation by bringing together under one roof the best and brightest minds of industry and interdisciplinary research. As opportunities for research alliances materialize, artists, engineers and community partners will broach significant real-world challenges with new ways of thinking.
If you’re new to UBC Okanagan, the entire landscape is here for you to explore for the first time. If you’re returning after a hiatus, you might find yourself saying, “Where did that come from?” Either way, enjoy the excitement of architectural innovation and the reimagining of space as you make your way around campus!