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Concept for UBC Okanagan downtown campus surfaces

UBC Okanagan downtown campus rendering
Concept rendering of the future UBC Okanagan downtown campus in Kelowna. Credit: UNStudio/DIALOG and Bloomimages

Correction: UNstudio is no longer working on the project — the new architect is HMCA and these renderings do not accurately reflect the upcoming design.

A concept for the future UBC Okanagan downtown campus in Kelowna by Netherlands-based UNstudio, in collaboration with DIALOG, has surfaced online. However, the design concept will not being moving forward, as UBC Properties Trust is now working with HMCA of Vancouver on a revised design, which will be released soon.

The UBC Okanagan downtown campus project, tentatively named “Benchlands”, is a collaboration between the University of British Columbia and Kelowna-based developer Mission Group.

It will include three high-rise towers over a combined podium, consisting of a full city block on Doyle Street. It will be a mix of university spaces, residential, office and retail, and landscaped public plazas. One of the three towers will be UBC-owned, consisting of academic and residential, while the other two towers will be owned by Mission Group, and consist of residential and office space.

Renderings: UBC Okanagan downtown campus

Location of new campus within downtown Kelowna. Credit: UNStudio/DIALOG and Bloomimages
Concept tower rendering. Credit: UNStudio/DIALOG and Bloomimages
Concept tower rendering. Credit: UNStudio/DIALOG and Bloomimages
Concept public and park space. Credit: UNStudio/DIALOG and Bloomimages

UBC will make up approximately 80,000 square feet of space in the new development, including a Health Hub, where students and researchers will work directly with the community, from administering vaccines, to providing addiction support services. In total, the project will consist of 868,136 square feet of space across all three towers and the shared podium.

There will be a ‘Creative Innovation Space’ included in the new UBC downtown campus, where established artists can display their work alongside students, as well as a public engagement hub including a wine tasting “sensory lab”, showcasing Okanagan wines in a specialized research space.

The development’s architecture takes inspiration from its surroundings — the Okanagan Valley and its cliffs, and sustainability is a major focus as well, with special attention paid to tower positioning, ventilation, façade materials and lighting.

UBC Properties Trust purchased the property at 550 Doyle Street — formerly the location of the Kelowna Daily Courier newspaper — in June 2020. University officials say the new campus will help free up space at the main Okanagan campus, and bring health and arts programs to the centre of the community. Since 2005, UBC Okanagan has grown from 3,000 students to over 11,000 — with a target of 20,000 students by 2040.

Construction of the new UBC Okanagan downtown campus is expected to begin in spring 2022, with occupancy slated for fall 2024.

Video: Downtown campus preliminary renderings from 2020

Editor’s note: Peter Meiszner is an employee of the University of British Columbia.

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