Client: The University of British Columbia Location: Vancouver, BC Size: 6,500 sf Budget: $5,500,000 Status: Completed in 2011
Coal & Mineral Processing Laboratory, Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, UBC

The Frank Forward Building, part of the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at UBC, provided a valuable instructional and research facility to the university's Faculty of Applied Science but offered little to no “people space.” JDa turned a sliver of land, contiguous to the existing building, into a thriving campus home with an expanded lab and much-needed breathing room for mining engineering students, faculty and researchers. Clad in shimmering zinc-shingled tiles, the structure references one of the primary minerals mined by Teck Resources, the project’s leading donor.

A feeling of movement and energy leads pedestrians up and through the structure. A pyramid of stairs offers a wide expanse for lunching, talking and sitting while a breezeway connects to the lab around the back.

The airy entry lounge and adjacent walkway exemplify the overall aesthetic of the addition. Radiating light, warmth, colour and transparency, the building is the antithesis of the rock crushing lab to which it connects. Although not certified, it meets or exceeds all sustainability goals required by the university.

Sun screens cast welcome shadows on west-facing windows. A scupper and stylized concrete downspout direct rooftop water to—appropriately—a rock garden. A bioswale lies beyond.

“Everyone in the building can interact with the outside and the building has a liveliness to it from the outside. It’s what we call an active space.”

Lead architect Kimberly Johnston

The two upper floors provide flex space for graduate students and retired faculty. Natural linoleum flooring provides an unexpected pop of colour in each room, enlivening an otherwise neutral palette.

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