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2014 MCHAP

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences / CDRD

Saucier + Perrotte Architects

Vancouver, Canada



Gilles Saucier, Saucier + Perrotte architectes


Andre Perrotte, Saucier + Perrotte architectes (Managing Principal) Roger Hughes / Hughes Condon Marler Architects (Executive Architect)


Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Centre for Drug Research and Development


Marc Cramer


The initial concept stems from the idea of trees whose branch system forms a canopy floating above the ground. As this organic network is abstracted, it is subsequently given tectonic manifestation, and the architecture takes on a more geometric form. The striking design provides enjoyable, livable spaces for research and learning, creating public and private spaces for the exchange of ideas. The conceptual tree trunks become atria filled with natural light permeates the adjacent spaces (laboratories, offices, etc.). Historically plants and vegetation have always served a strong role in the development of drugs and medicine. The idea of a root system growing over time into a tree with an extensive network of branches serves as an allegory for the development of modern medicine, which has evolved over centuries, purposefully and steadily. The image of two trees and their foliage becoming fused and intertwined provides the general conceptual underpinning of the overall building. The tree “trunks” serve as the structural basis of the building with different portions of program being suspended from them as a broad canopy. As the “roots” emerge from the ground plane, they house program such as the building’s two main auditoriums and they develop into the “trunks” which function as atria to allow natural light into the building. The conceptual pixilation of the tree canopy becomes a model for the facade development, displaying how the organic form of foliage can be transformed into a more Cartesian geometry.


A state-of-the-art facility, the new building houses the UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Centre for Drug Research and Development. Critical to the design is the ability to go beyond the norm to promote enjoyable, livable, and sustainable spaces for research, learning, and the exchange of ideas. Its architectural expression gives the building a striking presence on campus, and when coupled with the project’s technological functionality, the facility becomes a new, cutting-edge part of the UBC landscape. Located on the corner of Wesbrook Mall and Agronomy Road, the 27,311-square-metre, six-storey building is situated on a 2-hectare site. Functioning architecturally as an active gateway, or entry point, into the academic core, the building engages the community with a ground floor that is transparent, inviting, and one that will at the public level openly showcase the research taking place within. To successfully contribute to UBC’s legacy of architecture and pharmaceutical research, the design has led to a signature building, a standard for future education and high-level research buildings in Canada and abroad. The architecture provides spaces for the exchange of ideas and research — for both intellectual and social interaction. Its unconventional layout affords students and researchers opportunities that traditional university buildings have not. Since architecture can, perhaps more than ever, give an international presence to particular schools and departments within universities, the design itself is intended to play a significant role in attracting and retaining the best in the scientific community from around the world.


The building has become beloved by students and faculty alike, who have even expressed their appreciation through online testimonials. Part of their appreciation derives from the unique spaces, material palette, and abundant daylight entering the project. Incorporated on ground level is an exhibition space that can be navigated fluidly as a space of encounter for faculty, researchers, students, and the public. Upstairs is another exhibition zone that is dedicated to the history of medicine and the profession. The project takes into consideration the future needs of the pharmaceutical program. A vibrant node for science on the campus, the state-of-the-art building is intended to promote creativity and new methods for individual and collaborative research, representing the academic and scientific excellence for which UBC has become renowned. The building will attain LEED Gold certification. Among its host of sustainable features are: atria for daylighting and passive ventilation, aggressive energy efficiency measures in the design of building systems (HVAC, envelope, heat recovery, etc.), extensive use of healthy materials, operable windows, and a whole lifecycle approach to building design and material procurement. According to Robert Sindelar, Dean at the time of construction: “Our new building’s collaborative learning and research infrastructure will greatly increase our capacity to lead the world in pharmaceutical sciences and create an environment that challenges our students address real world health issues.” According to UBC President Stephen Toope: “The new Pharmaceutical Sciences Building is a remarkable achievement, and redefines the future of pharmacy education and practice in the province.”

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