Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences/CDRD

ARCHITECT Saucier + Perrotte Architectes in joint venture with Hughes Condon Marler Architects
LOCATION Vancouver, British Columbia

The design for the Pharmaceutical Sciences/CDRD Building reflects the faculty’s world-class researchers and the University of British Columbia’s status as an internationally recognized institution in scientific endeavours. A state-of-the-art facility, the new project houses both the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the University’s Centre for Drug Research and Development. Critical to the design is the ability to go beyond the norm to thoroughly promote enjoyable, liveable, and sustainable spaces for research and learning. Its architectural expression gives the building a striking presence on campus, and when coupled with the project’s technological functionality, the facility becomes a new, cutting-edge part of the UBC landscape.

Located on the corner of Wesbrook Mall and Agronomy Road, the site consists of a 20,240-square-metre parcel of land, immediately north of the UBC Thunderbird Parkade, and is restricted to a maximum buildable height of five to six storeys above grade, plus a basement. At this strategic location, the new building becomes an important landmark for the southeastern edge of the campus core. Functioning architecturally as an active gateway or entry point into the academic core, the building engages the community with a ground floor that is transparent, inviting, and will openly showcase the research taking place within.

Adjacent to the site are the University Endowment Lands/UBC residential communities to the east of Wesbrook Mall, the Life Sciences Building to the north of Agronomy Road, and “Agronomy Knoll,” a large open space to the west. This public plaza terminates the mid-block greenway that connects the southern part of campus, through UBC’s athletic facilities, to the Health Science Precinct. 

The new Pharmaceutical Sciences Building becomes a notable building for the entire city and region–one filled with inventive and innovative ideas. To successfully contribute to UBC’s legacy of architecture and pharmaceutical research, the design was intended to produce a signature building that would become the standard by which future education and high-level research buildings will be measured–both in Canada and abroad. 

The building creates spaces for the exchange of ideas and research–for both intellectual and social interaction. The project’s unconventional layout affords students and researchers opportunities that traditional university buildings have not. By means of the careful implementation of programmed and public spaces, students and faculty are able to work both collaboratively and independently as they study, conduct research, or carry out experiments.

Just as it will become a vibrant node of the sciences and new technology, the building has taken into consideration the current and future needs of the University’s pharmaceutical program. In this way, the exchange of knowledge is the principal factor behind the design of the new building and is the catalyst for its unique architectural form.

WF I admire the way in which the main floor circulation spaces draw the ground plane into the building and then continue spatially to infuse the concrete armature of the upper floors of the building. A passionate narrative of interconnected spaces informing a rational and rigorous architecture.

DN I like the strong sculptural qualities of this building with the wood boxes wrapping the labs and teaching spaces. The pixellation of a tree canopy into a Cartesian grid of wood boxes (foliage) provide a sculptural framework for this building, especially the west façade overlooking the main entrance and a plaza where the wood box elements appear to be transforming into a grid or escaping from the grid. In a way, this project reminds me of the powerful concrete qualities of Erickson’s MacMillan Bloedel office building in downtown Vancouver. Furthermore, the presentation seems to capture an atmospheric quality of the site.

PS This project is strongly presented and the drawings clearly describe the character and intentions for an architecture that can be seen as a social infrastructure for knowledge. Clearly designed for durability, this project is accomplished and despite its nod to a kind of signature institutional Modernism, it will be relevant for years to come. The simplicity of the box controls the project’s sustainable mandate, while its free and fluid public spaces, especially at ground level, promote a social foundation for the scheme that slips the campus into the building. 

CLIENT UBC Properties Trust
ARCHITECT TEAM Gilles Saucier, André Perrotte, Roger Hughes, Bill Uhrich, David Moreaux, Craig Lane, Dominique Dumais, Paul Fast, Marc-André Tratch, Craig West, Yutaro Minagawa, Rachel Lacey, Olivier Krieger, Nick Worth, Eli Wolpin, Nicko Elliott, Joel Legault, Patrice Begin, Charles-Alexandre Dubois, Greg Neudorf, Charles Leman
STRUCTURAL Glotman Simpson
AREA 11,500 m2
COMPLETION September 2012