Sauder School of Business

Acton Ostry Architects Inc.

Jury comments: The building is a stand-out as the renovation of a mundane 1960s University of British Columbia building that takes the assets of the old building and improves them. A revised colourful and vibrant glazed facade signals the rebirth life of the building, and the new five-storey construction cleverly adds an atrium that introduces more useable interior space with natural light and ventilation. The strategy to use waste steam from the district heating plant for heating and cooling is innovative.

The Sauder School of Business is located at the geographical centre of the University of British Columbia campus, and at the start of this project comprised a disparate series of buildings constructed over a 30-year period. The original Henry Angus classroom block and office tower were constructed in 1965. The E.D. McPhee North and South additions were built in 1975 and the David Lam Management Research Centre was completed in 1995.

Over time, the capacity of the building systems and spaces to adequately and appropriately support the activities of a contemporary, internationally renowned school of business had declined to a critical point.
The new expansion includes the insertion of a five-level addition and atrium on the west side of the existing classroom block. The sky-lit atrium links the addition to the existing building to bring order to the complex through the creation of a focal circulation spine located at the heart of the School.

The new addition accommodates a variety of state-of-the-art lecture theatres, breakout rooms, undergraduate centre, student social space, and learning commons. The lobed-roof form of the leadership centre articulates state-of-the-art, twinned, tiered lecture theatres. Passive solar shading, combined with fritted glazing, reduces heat gain and glare.
The renovated and revitalized ground floor incorporates new graduate and business career centres that are linked with lounge areas, informal study spaces, and a café and student store.

A new glazed facade wraps the east and south elevations of the existing complex to unify the composition. To achieve a bold, innovative identity for the Sauder School of Business, the new facade embeds and reflects the rhythm, cadence and pattern language associated with the universal transfer of digital commerce and business information — a barcode. The glazed facade is also distinguished by means of an oscillating pattern of blue and green wood panels — the colour of which were inspired by the paintings of influential BC artists such as, BC Binning, Jack Shadbolt, Emily Carr and Gordon Smith — that have been applied to the precast concrete structure of the original building. Former recessed entrances have been reconfigured and brought forward to flank new outdoor benches and terraces along Main Mall. A new outdoor canopy shelters the café terrace where rainwater is routed to a landscaped grey-water trench.

The naturally daylit interior is further animated by means of a fully integrated wayfinding and donor recognition program that features images of international stock exchanges, forest scenes, and large scale portraits of those who made significant financial contributions to the project. These images blend and merge people, place, business and commerce through the use of international currency symbols that are used as the pixels that define the images. Lecture theatres have heating and humidification systems that rely on waste steam from the campus heating plant. Part of the building cooling is provided by a steam absorption chiller that also operates on waste steam from the plant. As a result, all heating and humidification energy, and some cooling energy, for much of the building uses scavenged energy. The building addition has a variable refrigerant flow fan coil system that transfers heat from interior to perimeter zones during the heating season to minimize use of electric energy. Occupancy and daylight sensors control lighting, and low-flow water fixtures are projected to reduce potable water use by 40%.


This project involved only a partial renovation to the existing buildings in the complex. Hence the relatively high energy intensity and water consumption of the unrenovated areas influences the average figures presented here. Phase 2, the renovation of the remainder of the building, is currently under construction.


    • Owner/Developer  UBC Properties Trust
    • Architect  Acton Ostry Architects Inc.
    • Civil Engineer  Earth Tech Ltd. and Fransen Engineering
    • Electrical Engineer  Stantec
    • Mechanical  Engineer & Commissioning Cobalt Engineering
    • Structural Engineer  Glotman Simpson Consulting Engineers and JM Engineering Ltd.
    • Building Envelope  Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd.
    • Geotechnical  GeoPacific Consultants Ltd.
    • Surveyor  Matson Peck & Topliss
    • General Contractor  Scott Construction Group
    • Landscape Architect  Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg Inc.
    • Commissioning Agent  Cobalt Engineering   Wayfinding  Gallop/Varley
    • Photos  Nick Lehoux & Acton Ostry Architects Inc.

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