UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences Building

A New “Tree” Blossoms At UBC

As beautiful as its surroundings, the new state-of-the-art University of British Columbia (UBC) Pharmaceutical Sciences Building is redefining the future of education, engaging the community and inviting students in. Inspired by two trees intertwined together, the unique design pays homage to nature and makes the building feel like it’s right where it belongs amongst the neighbouring views of snow-capped mountains, forest and the Pacific Ocean.

Meeting rooms in a series of glass cubes jut out from the buildings west side reflecting surrounding foliage and abstractly forming the branches of the tree. Unaligned staircases within the faculty branch out and form pathways between floors for students to roam and board-formed concrete placed in unusual angles form the metaphorical roots.

Beginning construction in 2010, UCC Group had three distinct areas to the contract; the architectural concrete walls, the polished concrete floors and the exterior landscape.

Using over 400m³ of Self-Consolidating Concrete and rough sawn boards lining the forms, the architectural concrete walls proved to be the most challenging yet exciting features. 3-D Building Information Modeling (BIM) was used at great lengths to help visualize the multiple converging angles and planes of the sloped concrete walls. Once the models were in place, the structural shoring drawings were completed, detailing how the watertight forms would stay in place while casting the concrete. The use of self-consolidating mixes also required a slow and controlled rate of placement, particularly as the walls transitioned from one plane to another. Some of the walls also tied into the underside of upper floor slabs and were poured through small openings left in the floor for that purpose. The difficult architectural finishes, significant formwork shoring combined with UBC’s typically tight timelines only made the finished product more satisfying. The strikingly beautiful angled walls inspire students, staff and researchers as they approach and enter the building.

UCC Group placed and polished the concrete floor toppings to a mirror finish on over 14,000 square feet of the Main Floor. Using an 8 head Werkmaster Titan, the floors were prepared with 40 Grit Diamond disks all the way down to 800 Grit Ceramic disks. The entire area was coated with a specialized sealer to complete the work. Not only is it visually appealing and highly durable but it complements the modern design of the building perfectly.

Capturing the tone and feel of the architecture, while complementing the building design was the focus for the exterior hardscapes. Over 700m³ of architectural finished concrete is displayed across 3,200m² of paving, stairs and planters, greeting students and leading them in to the new building. Providing an attractive outdoor space for the faculty gives students a place to enjoy the fresh air, work or admire the beauty of the new building.

The success of a building as unique as this is fundamentally due to the high levels of teamwork and communication. UCC Group is extremely proud to have been part of such a dynamic team which has provided a platform that has ultimately redefined the future of pharmacy education.


Square Meters

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada