University of British Columbia, Earth Sciences Building (ESB)

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Project Info
University of British Columbia, Earth Sciences Building (ESB)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Completion Date: 2012
Square Footage: 170,005
LEED-NC Gold Certified

Innovation Award, 2013
Architectural Institute of British Columbia

Institutional Wood Design – Large, 2013
Wood WORKS! BC Wood Design Awards

Merit Award, Excellence in Architecture for a New Building, 2013

Wood Innovation Engineering Award, 2012
Forest Products Society / American Wood Council

In 2009, Perkins + Will was commissioned to design the Earth Sciences Building (ESB) at the University of British Columbia. Shared between the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmosphere, the Department of Statistics, the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, the Dean of Science, and the Pacific Museum of the Earth, ESB is designed to enhance the growing links between each department, providing valuable opportunities for shared learning and collaboration. The building contains teaching, lab, and office space, along with three lecture theatres.

The five-storey structure is organized into two wings that surround an open-concept atrium with a free-floating cantilevered solid timber staircase, a first of its kind in the world. Unlike the concrete laboratory wing, the academic wing uses wood as the primary structural material, providing a welcoming environment, while storing approximately 1,094 tonnes of CO2 based on the 1,353 cubic metres of wood materials used in the project—the equivalent of taking 415 cars off the road for one year. North America’s largest panelized wood structure, ESB uses a combination of solid, cross-laminated wood and wood-concrete composite panels and raises the bar for the use of wood in large-scale, high-performance projects.

The building is also located directly across the street from the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, which presented an opportunity to develop a ‘museum precinct’ in this area of campus, contributing to and reinforcing the public realm along Main Mall, the campus’s primary axis. Promoting the project goal of ‘science on display,’ a double-height research lab space serves as the backdrop for the museum-display component of the project.

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