With a vision to be the greenest building in North America, the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability – from the get go – was essentially a research experiment. The client’s goal was for the building to be energy “net positive” and lead the way in accelerating sustainable building technologies.

Project Essentials

  • LocationVancouver, BC
  • ClientUBC Properties Trust
  • ArchitectPerkins + Will
  • Size62,000 ft² (5,800 m²)
  • BudgetC$37 million
  • Sustainable FeaturesLEED Platinum Certified, Targets Living Building Challenge

Fast + Epp, in close collaboration with the architects, set out to maximize the use of wood and ensure an elegantly-exposed structure. The four-storey building is constructed primarily of exposed solid laminated 2×4 floors, supported by glulam beams and columns throughout. Overall lateral stability is achieved with timber moment frames in one direction using custom prefabricated plywood box panels between glulam columns, and by plywood shear walls in the orthogonal direction. The design ensures future demountability and easy reconfiguration as the client’s needs change.

With the structure, facade, and many other finishes and systems made from pine-beetle-kill wood, the building cost-effectively captures and stores about 600 tonnes of carbon dioxide greenhouse gases – more than was needed during construction. 


  • Canadian Wood Council

    2012 North American Wood Design & Building Award

  • National Council of Structural Engineers Associations, USA

    2010 Excellence in Structural Engineering Award for New Buildings $30 to $100 Million

Programming includes a 450-seat auditorium, exhibition and social gathering spaces, laboratories, administrative offices, a bright main atrium and a green roof. The building’s performance data is collected from 3,000 monitoring points within the structure and displayed in the lobby.