Acton Ostry Architects Inc. complete first phase of Sauder School of Business renewal and expansion at the University of British Columbia

The Sauder School of Business is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Main Mall and University Boulevard at the geographical centre of the University of British Columbia campus. The original Henry Angus Classroom Block and Henry Angus Office Tower were constructed in 1965, while the E.D. McPhee North and South additions were built in 1975 and the David Lam Management Research Centre was completed in 1995. Over the years, there has been a steady decline in the capacity of the building systems and space restrictions to adequately and appropriately support the activities of a contemporary, internationally renowned school of business.


The new 5,430-square-metre expansion designed by Acton Ostry Architects Inc. includes a five-level addition and skylit atrium. The dramatic soaring space links the addition to the existing building by creating a focal circulation spine at the heart of the School. The new floor-to-ceiling glazed addition houses a variety of high-tech lecture theatres, breakout rooms, classrooms, an undergraduate centre, and student social spaces. The lobed-roof form of the upper level Leadership Centre expresses the twinned, tiered lecture theatres contained within. The refurbished and revitalized main level incorporates new graduate and business career centres linked with lounge areas, informal study spaces, a café and store.


To achieve a new and bold identity for the Sauder School of Business, the old impassive concrete building was wrapped with a new glazed façade that references the rhythm and pattern language associated with the universal transfer of digital commerce and business information – the barcode. To enliven the expression, an oscillating pattern of stained blue and green wood panels and coloured glass – the colours of which were inspired from the paintings of BC artists such as B.C. Binning, Gordon Smith and Emily Carr – were applied to the precast concrete tees of the original building. What were formerly deep, dark 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 greywater trench.


The new School is further animated by means of an inspiring wayfinding and donor recognition program that has been seamlessly integrated within the interior. Images of international stock exchanges, forest scenes, and large-scale portraits of local business magnates Robert H. Lee, Jim Pattison, Bruce Birmingham, Hari Varshney, and Peter Brown – all made significant financial contributions to the project – have been embedded on large glass walls throughout the building. Various international currency symbols are used as pixels to delineate the images and to eloquently allude to the relationship that exists between the School, business, commerce, people and places.


Phase Two of the $85-million project is scheduled to commence later this year, at which time 20,000 square metres of existing classrooms will be upgraded and a new 600-square-metre conference centre penthouse will be added to the top of the School’s existing administrative tower. The existing learning commons will also be renovated. The new central atrium will also be further transformed with the installation of a towering 12-metre-high illuminated portrait of Bill Sauder, for whom the School is named. In addition, an array of portraits of past and present faculty leaders and innovators will be fixed to the original classroom block façade in the atrium to recognize important School achievements since its inception.


The project was constructed by the Scott Construction Group with UBC Properties Trust serving as Project Manager.


The Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia is Canada’s leading academic business school, recognized globally for its contributions to the transformation of business practices through innovative research and teaching. The school has over 31,000 alumni in 74 countries around the world.


For more information, please visit