UBC ‘town’ one step closer

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005

UBC ‘town’ one step closer. Three finalists will now compete to design the $100-million project

Darah Hansen

VANCOUVER – The creation of a $100-million “university town” — a blended commercial and residential centre in the heart of the University of B.C.‘s main campus — has moved one step closer with the announcement of three finalists in the University Boulevard international architectural competition.

A jury of professional peers, chaired by Dennis Pavlich, UBC vice-president of external and legal affairs, must now select the final choice from the final design proposals submitted by Patkau Architects of Vancouver; Allies and Morrison Architects (London, England), with Proscenium Architecture and Interiors Inc. of Vancouver; and Moore Ruble Yudell Architects (Santa Monica, Calif.), with the Vancouver firm Hughes Condon and Marler Architects.

Pavlich called the final selection process “exciting,” adding the jury faces a difficult time deciding among final designs that each offer “inspiring and differing architectural perspectives.”

The final candidates will be evaluated on a number of criteria, including the use of public space, relationship to the campus, technical performance, sustainable development and ability to stay within budget.

The public, too, can comment on the finalists. Pavlich said the final design proposals will be posted on campus, and viewers will be asked to state their own preference.

The winner of the competition will be announced next month.

The project is expected to be completed by 2008, in time to celebrate UBC’s 100th birthday.

Pavlich said the university is long overdue for a space on campus that represents, both visually and socially, its “social heart.”

He said visitors to the campus often talk about its natural beauty, “but they don’t have a lasting mental impression” of the sprawling campus.

“We want to create a very concrete memory within the mind. When [visitors] think of UBC, they will think of the University Boulevard,” Pavlich added.

The concept of a “university town” is as old as many of the world’s most-prestigious universities. The villages of Oxford and Cambridge became the “towns of significance” they are today, Pavlich said, because of their connection with their namesake universities, created in the 13th century.

Pavlich said the university will borrow the $100 million required to build the project. The money is expected to be paid back from revenue gleaned from the lease of retail and residential space. Pavlich said the debt is expected to be paid off within 25 to 30 years. Once that happens, he said, revenue will go into the university’s endowment fund, which is used to fund scholarships, research and academic projects at the university.

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