Our Campus: The Earth and Ocean Sciences complex is UBC’s Science World

In some ways, the Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS) building complex is like any other at UBC: it has offices, computer labs and lecture halls. Unlike most buildings, however, EOAS also has a tornado machine, a green screen 'do-it-yourself' meteorological broadcast station and a giant, interactive, animated globe.

The complex is not only an educational hub, it is also a treasure trove of science- and learning-based gadgets hard to find anywhere else in the city and possibly western Canada.

The most recognizable building in the complex is the Earth Sciences Building (ESB), opened in 2012, which thousands of students pass by daily on Main Mall. Although it was a hefty investment of $75 million, it is now a major contender for the title of nicest instructional building on campus.

The ESB’s aesthetic design is certainly breathtaking, but it is also one of the most efficient and functional structures on campus. The building is LEED Gold certified, signifying its sustainable nature, and as the largest panelized wood building and the largest application of cross laminated timber in North America, it certainly gives our campus some bragging rights. By using over 1,300 tons of B.C. sourced cross laminated timber, the ESB will sequester enough carbon to keep the atmosphere free from over 2,500 tons of CO2.

The Earth Sciences Building modern interior design provides spacious foyers and plenty of natural light. Perhaps to take advantage the building’s traits, the office of the dean for the Faculty of Science has relocated to the ESB, along with the earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences, statistics and the Pacific Institute of the mathematical sciences departments. The ESB also serves as a place where industry leaders in fields such as geology come to connect with UBC students, staff and alumni.

Although most students know of the grandiose nine-metre high-head labs penetrating the first storey of the Earth Sciences Building with floor to ceiling windows, very few have seen the treasures it conceals. Tucked neatly behind the façade of the ESB are countless precious stones, ancient bones and other scientific memorabilia, each piece with a unique and fascinating story to tell. This is, in essence, a secret mini-museum at UBC and a resource not many students even know exists.

At the heart of the complex's natural sciences display is the interactive, animated globe -- the OmniGlobe -- which rests in a small dark room and offers viewers the opportunity to observe the climate, landscape and other features of our planet change throughout its history. Touch one button and a warm glow fills the room as the globe displays the air temperature of the earth over time. Press another, and the ocean's currents stream across the sphere. Other interactive attractions include the wildly entertaining tornado machine and a live stream of the weather courtesy of Global TV with a camera and green screen that let you fulfill your childhood dreams of being Mark Madryga.

The Earth and Oceans Sciences complex houses some of the most incredible accessible technology at UBC, and while the new Earth Sciences Building serves as a place of study, work and innovation, it is also a piece of art in and of itself. At barely three years old, it is already one of the most frequently used structures on the Point Grey Campus, and has the potential to become an even bigger player in the campus community. A fusion of laboratories, office space, lecture halls, and UBC's own Science World, the ESB has a unique charm. Take a look for yourself and help forge the young structure's identity.