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UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 4 | Apr. 7, 2005

Choice Imminent for University Town Design

Three Teams: Three Visions

By Brenda Austin

A space of any kind defines what happens within it, says Associate Director of External Affairs for University Town Linda Moore, a graduate architect and project manager for the University Boulevard Architectural Competition.

Architects competing to design University Boulevard, one of eight neighbourhoods which make up University Town, have been given the daunting task of developing a central campus neighbourhood that meets the lofty ideals of livability, sociability and sustainability.

The architects must include a campus entrance with aesthetic appeal, buildings that speak of academic excellence, private living spaces and public areas and amenities that give a sense of a lively social milieu.

The juried competition to design such a space opened in October 2004. Fifty-two of the world’s top architects responded with an expression of interest by Nov. 30. UBC developed a short list of seven in December, and narrowed the selection to three.

Now comes the final choice.

Although the models and drawings provided to the university are not identified, the names of the finalists are public knowledge. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Allies and Morrison Architects of London, UK, partnered with Proscenium Architecture and Interiors Inc. of Vancouver;
  • Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners, Santa Monica, California, with Hughes Condon Marler Architects; and
  • Patkau Architects Inc. of Vancouver.

Their renderings show how each of the three finalists provide solutions to the integration of ideals. The drawings, as well as three-dimensional context models, are on view at the UBC Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery from April 1-10 for members of the university community to register feedback on their favourite.

Moore sees the community input as a crucial step in the process. All alumni and current UBC students, faculty and staff members, professor emeriti and campus residents are eligible to participate.

“Our poll is basic,” Moore says. “Which team’s vision do you prefer? Which submission is best? But, there is also an opportunity to provide comments that will give us direction on how we proceed, on refinements to plans and how we consult on livability.

“Please take the time not only to cast your vote but offer qualitative comments,” she stresses.

The unique nature of this project rests on the fact this is not a competition about one building. The boulevard stretches from Wesbrook to Main Mall with boundary fingers north and south. This is an entire precinct and only one building, the General Services Administration Building, may be left standing with modifications.

At the gallery, animated computer graphics move viewers through the site to explore the relationship of spaces to buildings and the ground plan for pedestrians in each design vision. Panels illuminate particular aspects of each.

“We see University Boulevard becoming the epitome of our academic excellence and international standing, a defining architectural feature of our university in the twenty-first century,”says Vice-President of External and Legal Affairs Dennis Pavlich.

For such an ambitious competition, Moore says, the jury must include world-class architects. They are:

  • Demetri Porthyrios, a London, UK architect and academic
  • Moshe Safdie, a Canadian, with offices in Boston and Jerusalem, who won the last large-scale competition in Vancouver to design the Vancouver Public Library
  • Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, a principal in her own company and dean of architecture at the University of Miami
  • Leon Krier, from London, UK, who teaches at the Architectural Association there
  • Arthur Erickson, who designed the UBC Museum of Anthropology, among many other buildings.

Jurists representing the university are:

  • Moura Quayle, dean of the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and associate vice-president of UBC Okanagan, and a landscape architect
  • Dennis Pavlich, Vice-President of External and Legal Affairs, chair of the jury
  • Linda Moore, Associate Director of External Affairs for University Town, graduate architect and University Boulevard Competition project manager
  • Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe, an architectural historian, professor and head of the UBC department of art history, visual arts and theory
  • Al Poettcker, president and chief executive officer of UBC Properties Trust
  • Colleen Brown, a graduate student of the School of Community and Regional Planning, representing the Alma Mater Society.

The jury’s selection accomplishes the primary evaluation but is influenced by the campus community poll and a review by the University Boulevard Technical Committee, to estimate whether the chosen design complies with requirements and comes within the designated budget.

If you have not done so already, you can register your choice of design at the Belkin Gallery until April 10, Monday to Friday 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday noon until 5 p.m., or online at www.universitytown.ubc.ca.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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