This ambitious two-phased project not only set about increasing student capacity through a new three-storey classroom block addition on Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus – it also took aim at renovating an aging 1960s automotive trades workshop, in an effort to turn it into a modern, energy-neutral learning space.

Project Essentials

  • LocationKelowna, BC
  • ClientOkanagan College
  • ArchitectDiamond Schmitt Architects
  • Size114,000 ft² (10,590 m²)
  • BudgetC$35 million
  • Sustainable FeaturesLEED Platinum, Living Building Challenge, Net Zero Energy

Extreme energy targets, with the end goal of being “net zero” for water and energy consumption, informed all design decisions. Wood is used extensively throughout the project for its environmental benefits, durability and warm visual aesthetic.

Fast + Epp developed a two-way concrete flat plate with a large atrium roof, comprised of 130mm-thick fluted glue-laminated timber panels on glulam beams and V-shaped columns. The slender columns transfer loads directly to the offset concrete landing below. Meanwhile, gaps between panels allow for the seamless integration of sprinklers and electrical conduits. Fast + Epp’s careful detailing of the steel-to-wood connections use hidden dowels and knife plates for elegance and simplicity.

The client aimed for LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certification, which meant passive design features such as massing, daylighting, natural ventilation, building footprint and programming orientation played a key role in maximizing the structure’s sustainability.