New Arts Student Centre design to reflect the experience of being an arts student

The change of site for the future Art Student Centre (ASC) from the oak Bosque to beside the Allard Law School presented a challenge to the young firm directed by founder Michael Leckie.

But the new location also brought new design opportunities for innovation.

The new design

“One of the interesting challenges was understanding the larger urban room of Brock Commons,” said Leckie.

“We wanted the space between all the adjacent buildings to feel like one single unified space and that’s what led us to the circular form and a radial plan, which eliminated the sense of a border at the Walter Gage Road corner.”

The new design has a different structural system based on concrete and steel, but it maintains some of the interior design features, like wood elements to bring warmth.

In addition, Leckie has also decided to incorporate nap capsules, which is something currently being explored by the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) at UBC. The design also includes all-gender bathrooms and a primary entrance pathway for circulation close to the elevator, so that people with accessibility issues don’t feel they have to use a different route to travel.

“I like it better than the old one,” said Kathryn Pierre, master of architecture student at UBC.

“This design plays with an interesting streetscape at East Mall and Walter Gage Road. It has different presence than anything else I’ve seen on campus.”

Leckie was honoured and excited when awarded the commission.

“This is a very important project for our emerging young practice, and so we see it as a fantastic opportunity. I’m an alumnus of UBC myself, I graduated from the School of Architecture so I feel very honoured to be practicing on campus.” he said.

In 2018 Michael Leckie’s studio was awarded the Emerging Firm Award in 2018 by the Architecture Foundation of British Columbia.

On sustainability

Horizontal and vertical fins on the external skeleton of the building will mediate privacy and views while providing attraction from solar gain — an efficiency feature that is fundamental for passive solar design. The building also incorporates passive ventilation strategies, plus water collection management.

At the same time, the pursuit of enduring architecture is one of the goals of the university. The building is expected to have a 100-year lifespan, according to Leckie.

The new ASC will also achieve the LEED Gold Certification, this is a primary objective for the stakeholder group and was discussed during the development of the design.

A place to connect and learn

The new centre aims to support a variety of activities and the studio has used a scenario-based approach for the planning of the building, which means it will be adaptable over time. The interior design is set up for interactivity and collaboration.

“We are really trying to build a work of architecture that will foster community engagement, to allow people to meet socially and really feel that they have a place that brings them together,” said Leckie.

The centre also strives to encapsulate the identity of the Art Undergraduate Society. The requirement for an art space has been fulfilled with a flexible public gallery to house exhibitions.

“It looks like it’s going to be more of a retreat than anything else. It will be a net gain for the art students, a lot of group work and quiet spaces. Also, the media and graphics production area will be massive, specially since the world is looking for more digital and curated design experiences,” Pierre added.