The dire shortage of recreational space for the growing student population at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Point Grey campus will be directly addressed by the construction of a new major additional student recreational centre over the coming years.
The “New Recreation Centre” facility at the core of the campus is slated for the large plaza space situated immediately north of the UBC Life Building (former Student Union Building) and at the western end of Student Union Boulevard.
UBC unveiled the proposed concept — designed by SHAPE Architecture — earlier this spring, which calls for an indoor floor area of 101,000 sq ft spread over three storeys, including three non-varsity gymnasiums, an interior walking track, cardio and weightlifting areas, multipurpose rooms, universal and gender-specific change rooms, and administrative offices.
With its multiple entrances and a north-south, mid-building outdoor walkway corridor on the ground level that links to the UBC Life Building, the new recreation centre will have a high degree of circulation permeability for foot traffic.
Additionally, on the southern side between this new building and the UBC Life Building, there will be a wide west-east walkway corridor for pedestrian traffic connections from the bosque on the west side to the aquatic centre and bus exchange on the east side.
“The project knits these edges together with a coherent and legible massing with articulations to define key moments of engagement. The defining characteristic being a generous new exterior walkway that continues the north-south student services spine into the public realm, linking together interior with exterior,” reads the project description.
“This recreation centre will be a new destination for the health and wellness of the campus community. It connects and extends the student services spine, creates opportunities for formal and informal play, and will be accessible to and inclusive of the entire campus community.”
The building’s sleek, contemporary design is consistent with the form and typology of the adjacent new aquatic centre, using minimal, monochromatic materials. This will also be constructed to a LEED Gold green building standard.
The outdoor public spaces to the north — between this new building and Brock Hall/North Parkade — will also be redesigned, but it will be conducted as a separate project.
Construction is expected to begin Summer 2022 for an opening in Fall 2024. The estimated cost is $66 million, with $17.7 million from Alma Mater Society (AMS) student fees, $5 million from donors, and $43.1 million in construction financing from the UBC administration.
The project was approved by the student population in a 2017 referendum as part of the broader “GamePlan” strategy of renewing and expanding student recreational facilities across the campus.
“There is a strong desire from the Alma Mater Society (AMS) and students to move forward with this project, as students currently exercise in crowded, outdated campus fitness facilities,” reads a UBC board of governors report.
With only 16,000 sq ft of fitness gym facilities across two existing locations, the UBC Vancouver campus has some of the lowest metrics in the country when it comes to the available fitness space floor area per student. The opening of this new facility will increase the fitness space available for each student to a level that is comparable to the Canadian university per student standards.
The 1995-built Student Recreation Centre immediately to the east of the new building will be retained as a campus hub for recreation activity, but with changes to the existing 7,500 sq ft fitness gym on the lower level that converts this space into an expanded bouldering centre and sports club activity space.
The 2018-built ARC fitness gym in the lower level of the UBC Life Building will be integrated into the new facility.