Owner: University of British Columbia
Wayne & William White Engineering Design Centre
Marking the eastern gateway to the engineering precinct on the UBC campus, the project gives form to a new engineering program focused on integrated design.
It has been recognized that with traditional engineering programs there was very little interaction among the disciplines (mechanical, electrical, civil, etc.), which were divided into separate streams at an early stage, and yet in practice the various disciplines are required to interact in multi-disciplinary teams – a role for which they may have had little academic preparation. The program for the Engineering Design Centre responds by bringing together academic spaces for interdisciplinary course work with student-controlled workshops for the fabrication of physical prototypes, and social space, forming a nexus of creativity and interaction.
Academic spaces on the upper stories are suspended above a highly permeable ground floor that reveals the inner workings of the studios and workshops to the campus and encourages circulation pathways around and through this activity. Connection is fostered by a perimeter of integral benches, canopies and views of activity that invite people to approach and inhabit the edge. A glass atrium links the interior spaces in an open forum – a mixing chamber that promotes interaction and connects with the public realm.
The design is characterized by a straight-forward arrangement of forms and inviting pedestrian amenity. Rugged materials and exposed services are juxtaposed with refined proportions, extensive glazing, and inviting wood elements. The building reveals its purpose as a workshop at heart, able to accept the wear and tear of constant modification, while framing vibrant spaces with natural light and transparency.