HBBH+BH Associated Architects selected to design the new $103-million Student Union Building at the University of British Columbia

Following a long and arduous process, the announcement was swiftly communicated by way of an online post – http://www2.ams.ubc.ca/index.php/ams/news/category/news/. Located at the entry to UBC, the new 255,000-square-foot Student Union Building (SUB) is one of the most significant recent architectural commissions in Canada. It has an incredibly advanced sustainability agenda (LEED Platinum and includes elements from the Living Building Challenge) as well as a strong design and social agenda. The base budget is roughly $75 million with the total projected budget to be over $103 million.


The Alma Mater Society of UBC Vancouver (AMS) is the client for this important project and their goal is to engage the entire student body meant a proposal process unlike any other, including a significant opportunity for social media. To respond to the AMS mandate for student engagement, HBBH+BH launched a campaign titled, “What’s Your SUB?” that included a micro-website, presence on Facebook, Twitter, a video on YouTube, a team presentation to the student body and accompanying display panels for student input.


“It was through the ‘What’s Your SUB?’ campaign that we were able to truly connect with the students,” said Principal Bruce Haden. “It was amazing to receive instantaneous input on their hopes and desires for the new SUB. These students are making a significant investment for future generations and it is important that we understand what they want the building to be.”


Bijan Ahmadian, AMS President, added, “I know that HBBH+BH will design an iconic building and deliver a robust student engagement program throughout the design process.” One such program included in the HBBH+BH submission is the building of an on-site Design Cube, to be located in the existing SUB. The Cube will act as a transparent base of operations and conversation during the crucial early design stages. On the digital level, the continued use of Twitter, Facebook and the ‘What’s Your SUB?’ site will act as a two-way electronic bulletin board. The multiple streams of digital and physical interaction will allow ongoing design refinement and increase the sense of ownership in the process, resulting in responsible and responsive engagement.


“Our desire to hear from students reaches far beyond the procurement process. Now that we have the job, the real work and understanding begins!” said Haden.


The new Student Union Building is scheduled for completion in 2014.