Orchard Commons is a new academic and student housing hub for international and domestic students at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The second of five mixed-use hubs planned for the University’s Point Grey campus, Orchard Commons combines student housing, academic uses, and amenities into the same facility with the intent to bring more activity and life to the heart of the campus.
Drawing students from around the globe, Orchard Commons is home to Vantage College, an innovative program that combines first year studies with academic English for international students. With a diverse group of young adults, most of whom are living away from home for the first time, the mandate to cultivate positive social interactions through the fabric of the building was key. The intent was to encourage and enable the academic program while embracing the informal opportunities to interact. These factors shaped the planning and a range of ‘social spaces’ have been provided, including three-storey interconnected lounges in the two residential towers. Transparency, daylight, and wood are key expressions throughout that support these spaces.
At nearly a half-million square feet, Orchard Commons provides 1,048 residence beds, a dining hall, classrooms, administrative space, a daycare, and other amenities, in addition to a generous walkable outdoor public realm.
Orchard Commons is intended to advance the University’s environmental, economic, and social sustainability on campus, and is testing new technologies and ways of working. The team embraced the notion of the campus as being a ‘living lab’, where new innovations are balanced with lessons learned. LEED Gold certification is anticipated.