A Tasteful Collection

Canadian Wine Library, Wine Research Centre,

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia

Urban Forum Architecture

The British Columbia chapter of the Canadian Wine Library recently opened this facility at the University of British Columbia (UBC) under the aegis of the Wine Research Centre. In recognition of the rapid growth of the local and Canadian wine producing business, the Centre undertakes independent research and offers support to the industry.

Located in the Family and Nutritional Sciences Building at UBC, the renovation of an existing concrete-walled basement space accommodates cellar storage and a tasting room. The library space features suspended vaults composed of curved steel frames that are fixed to the ceiling. The frames provide support for recessed lights, air diffusers and removable red oak wood-slat panels. The panels provide access to a hidden cooling system above the vaults, while the construction vocabulary of wine barrels is deployed in the curved steel framework and oak slats. At the end of each aisle, an oak and copper donor plaque identifies patrons of particular racks on either side of the aisle.

In the Vinotheque space, ceiling vaults angle upwards to permit additional storage and to modulate the rhythm of the ceiling. A steel gate leading to the Vinotheque cellar–which houses a museum collection of some of the world’s most prestigious wines–replicates the staggered pattern of the doors.

The Mission Hill Tasting Salon accommodates eight to 10 people for tastings and contains a double-glazed window through which the Library is visible, and is furnished with a Honduras Mahogany and inlaid copper custom-designed table. Red oak cabinets with marble counters provide space for basic kitchen facilities, glass storage racks, a computer station and extra storage. The red oak glass rack wraps up across the ceiling to extend the simple shelf vocabulary to a spatial enclosure that enhances the glass display.

Materials and finishes were chosen for non-toxicity, and help ensure a safe storage environment for the wines. They include steel and red oak for the ceiling vaults, red oak doors, windows and frames, rift cut red oak veneer millwork in the Tasting Salon, red oak veneer and copper donor plaques, marble counters, lime grasello plaster walls and a stained concrete floor. The wine is accommodated by a modular stick-frame wine racking system constructed of solid select all-heart redwood stock, with minimal use of redwood veneer ply for display shelving and end gables. The rack modules are seismically reinforced by vertical steel posts and horizontal wood blocking. NM

Client: University of British Columbia Campus Planning Project

Architect team: Shelley Craig, Brendan Avery, Mark Ashby, Lance Berelowitz

Structural: Equilibrium Consultants Inc.

Mechanical: Versacon Consultants Inc.

Electrical: Pacific Rim Consultants Inc.

Contractor: U.B.C. Project Services

Area: 100 m2

Budget: withheld by request

Completion: September 2002

Photography: Brendan Avery