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Open house celebration marks the grand opening of the Sauder School of Business at UBC


March 3, 2012
by Canadian Architect

Acton Ostry Architects has announced the grand opening of the redevelopment, revitalization and expansion of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. The Open House Celebration held on March 1, 2012 in the School’s expansive atrium marks the completion of the final phase of the $70-million project. Located at the geographical centre of the campus, this complex is a unified composition of three interconnected buildings constructed in 1965, 1975 and 1995. Today the new state-of-the art facility includes 216,000 square feet of renewal space, a 55,000-square-foot five-level new addition with a skylit atrium, and a 6,500-square-foot new conference centre penthouse built on top of the School’s existing administrative tower.

The completion of the project marks the culmination of several years of investment and engagement involving students, faculty, staff, alumni, the business community, the University and the Government of BC. Over $52 million was raised for the project from the business community, alumni and students. “We are tremendously proud to have built this extraordinary new home for business education in Canada with the support of our entire community,” says Sauder School of Business Dean Daniel Muzyka. “Encouraging innovation requires an inspiring environment that fosters creativity and collaboration. Our facilities now match our ambition to be one of the world’s preeminent hubs for business innovation and idea generation.”

The final phase of the project reinforces the School’s mandate of innovative learning through the inclusion of a wide variety of high tech and state-of-the-art teaching and learning spaces, including flat and tiered classrooms, breakout rooms, meeting rooms, a trading lab, learning commons, graduate student study areas and student lounges. Transparency and lightness experienced throughout the building reaches its pinnacle in the new floor-to-ceiling glazed conference centre penthouse, funded by North America’s ‘Big Four’ accounting firms; Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The penthouse, clad with a varying pattern of clear, translucent and opaque glass panels, acts as a beacon signaling the renewal and rejuvenation of the School.

The dramatic, soaring atrium – that linked the new addition to the existing building during phase one to create a focal circulation spine at the heart of the School – has been further transformed through the installation of a towering, 40-foot-high illuminated portrait of Bill Sauder, for whom the School is named. In addition, a “Builder’s Wall “ consisting of an array of portraits of past and present faculty leaders and innovators, has been fixed to the original classroom block façade of the Henry Angus building in the atrium to recognize important School achievements, since its inception.

To achieve a new, bold identity for the Sauder School of Business, the old impassive concrete building was wrapped with a new glazed façade that references the rhythm, cadence and pattern language associated with the universal transfer of digital commerce and business information — a barcode. “The rhythm of the existing building structure reminded us of a barcode,” explained Russell Acton, Principal, Acton Ostry Architects. “We used a barcode pattern to spell out ‘Sauder School of Business’ as a base from which to create a new identity for the School.” 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 – have been applied to the precast concrete structure of the original building. 

The new facility is also 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 have been embedded on large, glass walls throughout the building. The various images blend and merge people, places, business and commerce by means of international currency symbols that are used as pixels to delineate the images. “By using currency symbols to create original art that is integrated within the architecture, we link and fuse the symbiotic relationship that exists between the School, business, commerce, people and places,” explains Russell Acton.

“Preparing students for success after graduation requires learning environments custom-built for the constantly evolving skills needed in the world of business,” says Dean Muzyka. “Our new teaching spaces help students and faculty embrace participatory and collaborative learning models, reinforcing the kind of dynamic interchange of ideas that drive the most effective organizations.”

To date, the project has been recognized with a 2011 Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Award in Architecture, 2010 Canadian Interiors Best of Canada Award, 2010 Sustainable Architecture & Building Canadian Green Building Award and a 2010 Vancouver Regional Construction Association Award of Excellence.

Scott Construction Group built the Sauder School of Business project and UBC Properties Trust was responsible for project management.


sauder school of business: photo by nic lehoux
sauder school of business: photo by nic lehoux


Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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