The University of British Columbia (UBC) is located Vancouver, Canada, and holds the distinction of being the oldest university in the region. It has consistently ranked among the top 50 universities worldwide and is dedicated to providing excellent student experiences by embracing a framework that integrates research and community engagement with teaching and learning. This aligns with the UBC’s vision of offering a dynamic space for learning, which encourages reflection, exploration, and critical thinking to make a positive impact on the world.
The Gateway project creates a place for learning, research, and community outreach through co-location of the schools of Nursing, Kinesiology, Language Science, and UBC health clinics. The site is located at the principal point of entry to campus, providing a unique opportunity to express the values and aspirations of the University.
The plans for the site were developed through consultations with representatives of the Musqueam First Nation. For generations, the Musqueam population has taken care of the land where the university now stands. From this dialogue, an expanded public realm in the spirit of the Indigenous forest that once occupied the site was created at the gateway, as a way to feature landscape as part of an inviting Host Nation welcome to people arriving on campus.
Also inspired by the Musqueam stewardship of the land as well as in support of the University’s ambitions to reduce environmental impact and inspired by Musqueam, an ethic of deep sustainability is core to the design. A holistic approach to living design principles is embedded in design decisions on materials, where both the natural Pacific Northwest setting and the immediate context of the surrounding campus is evident in the expressed timber used throughout the public spaces of the building.
As the main entrance to campus, the site already has a prominent, ceremonial aspect to it and the UBC Gateway project presented a unique opportunity to express the presence and culture of the Musqueam people, and specifically their cultural tradition for welcoming.