Project Essentials

  • LocationVancouver, BC
  • ClientUBC Properties Trust
  • ArchitectOffice of McFarlane Biggar (OMB)
  • Size45,200 ft² (4,199 m²)
  • Budget C$8 million
  • Sustainable FeaturesCertified LEED Gold

Prominently located at the centre of campus, this dated university bookstore lacked both a clear entrance and an inviting feel. When it came time to expand its building footprint for a coffee shop, convenience store and retail programming, the university decided to invest in a more comprehensive facelift and create a vibrant social space.

The roof is cantilevered in two directions to support a suspended mezzanine level that seems to float when observed from ground level. Slender hollow structural section columns are exposed throughout the space, in some cases utilizing concrete fill to provide additional strength and achieve the mezzanine’s required fire rating.

Fast + Epp devised a simple solution of expressive prefabricated hybrid wood-steel panels that integrate mechanical and electrical systems and the roof membrane. Not only do these panels hide unsightly services, their holistic design drastically reduced installation time – they were erected and watertight in just three days.

Click here to watch a three-day installation timelapse video of the NLT panel roof.

The renovation respects the integrity and “solidity” of the existing bookstore but uses warm, sustainable materials and extensive glazing to create openness and aesthetic appeal. It has become a favourite spot on campus for people watching and impromptu meetups, with events spilling out onto a landscaped courtyard.