Home Housing New UBC Vancouver student residences open with Musqueam names

New UBC Vancouver student residences open with Musqueam names

New student residences at UBC
New student residences at UBC. Credit: The University of British Columbia/supplied

UBC Vancouver officially opened five new student residence buildings Tuesday afternoon at a special naming ceremony hosted by the Musqueam Indian Band (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm).

The buildings, which were originally named the UBC Pacific Residences, were collectively gifted the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ name tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ, meaning The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater, by the Musqueam in the spring of 2021.

Now each of the five buildings has received its own name from the Musqueam:

  • təməs leləm̓ – Sea Otter House, opened to residents Apr. 2022
  • sqimək̓ʷ leləm̓ – Octopus House, opened to residents Apr. 2022
  • sɬewət̕ leləm̓ – Herring House, opened to residents Jan. 2022
  • q̓əlɬaləməcən leləm̓ – Orca House, opened to residents Sept. 2021
  • qʷta:yθən leləm̓ – Sturgeon House, opened to residents Sept. 2021

“UBC is deeply honoured to be gifted these hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ names from Musqueam, and we respectfully acknowledge that gift,” said UBC president and vice-chancellor Santa J. Ono.

“It is the university’s hope that through these names and the buildings’ design that residents and guests will develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of Musqueam history and storytelling.”

Construction on the new residence buildings began in October 2019.

Glass canopy at The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater. Credit: The University of British Columbia/supplied
Octopus shadow cast by the glass canopy. Credit: The University of British Columbia/supplied
Sturgeon House sign. Credit: The University of British Columbia/supplied

The development provides 743 beds for upper-year and graduate students and another 196 hotel suites at the northeast corner of campus. The total floor area of the development is 334,000 square feet and the total cost of the development was $165 million.

The residence buildings range between seven and 10 storeys and are sited in a horseshoe shape around the existing Walter Gage Residence buildings.

Map of buildings at The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater. Credit: The University of British Columbia/supplied

Each building’s front features signage displaying the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and English names.

Landscaping and public art includes etched-glass canopies with designs by Musqueam artist Kelly Cannell that cast shadows of the namesake animals over key pedestrian walkways. There also plants of cultural importance to Musqueam planted throughout the site, with informational signage on the names of the plants and their traditional uses.

Inside, lobbies feature story walls, detailing the significance of each of the animals to the Musqueam.

“It’s also hugely important to the university to be able to expand our student housing inventory in recognition of the challenges students face in finding affordable homes in a difficult rental market like Vancouver,” says Andrew Parr, associate vice-president, Student Housing at UBC.

Fees for residences at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ range from $1,033 – $1,354/month. Of the 743 beds, 503 are studios, 20 are large studios, plus there are eight accessible studios and 53 four-bedroom suites. Units include furnished living areas and appliance-equipped kitchens.

UBC provides more on-campus student housing than any university in Canada with more than 15,000 beds in Vancouver and the Okanagan and has invested more than $634 million in new student housing over the past 10 years.

Architects are Hotson Architecture and Ryder Architecture.

Editor’s note: The author of this article, Peter Meiszner, is an employee of the University of British Columbia.

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