Project Detail


UBC Earth Systems Science Building (ESSB)

Vancouver, British Columbia Canada

Perkins + Will Architects (formerly Busby Perkins Will), Flynn Canada, Ltd. (Building Envelope)


Project Description

The 170,005 SF building contains teaching, lab and office space, along with three lecture theatres.

The five-storey structure is organized into two wings that surround an open-concept atrium with a free-floating cantilevered solid timber staircase, a first of its kind in the world. Unlike the concrete laboratory wing, the academic wing uses wood as the primary structural material, providing a welcoming environment while storing approximately 1,094 tonnes of CO2 based on the 1,353 cubic metres of wood materials used in the project, the equivalent of taking 415 cars off the road for one year. North America’s largest panelized wood structure, ESB uses a combination of solid, cross-laminated wood and wood-concrete composite panels and raises the bar for the use of wood in large-scale, high-performance projects.

The building is also located directly across the street from the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, which presented an opportunity to develop a ‘museum precinct’ in this area of campus, contributing to and reinforcing the public realm along Main Mall, the campus’s primary axis. Promoting the project goal of ‘science on display,’ a double-height research lab space.

A feature of the building’s façade is a “geology teaching wall” where various stones are silicone glazed into a unitized curtain wall. This interactive wall allows students and faculty to connect with large format slabs of stone at eye level.

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Project Details

UBC Earth Systems Science Building (ESSB)
Shared by:
Project Team:
    Jana Foit, Peter Busby (Perkins + Will), Tyrel Sutton (Flynn Canada, Ltd.)
  • Civil Engineer: ARUP 
Project Scope:
Project Type:
Project Status:
Year Completed:
Project Size:
    15,542 sq m
Construction Cost:
Green Certifications:

Specified Products

Stone Panels, Inc. StoneLite®

StoneLite® is a lightweight honeycomb reinforced stone cladding that is 60x stronger than unreinforced stone but weighs only 3.5 pounds per SF (traditional veneer systems weigh somewhere between 15-25 pounds per SF and require more structural support i.e. concrete & steel). Panels can be silicone or pressure glazed or installed as a drained back-ventilated (DBV) or pressure-equalized rainscreen (PERS).

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