Year: 2013
Client: University of British Columbia
Area: 820 m2
LEED Gold (goal)

UBC-O Fitness & Wellness Centre

The design was the winner of a design-build competition, including leading athletic facility architects and builders, to create a new Fitness and Wellness Centre Addition on the north side of the existing gymnasium at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Conceived to demonstrate innovative wood construction technology, in support of the main funder’s objective to promote the best of the BC wood industry, the new facility will accommodate fitness space, an indoor climbing wall, and multipurpose studios for dance, yoga, martial arts, and social functions.

The design shifts away from the heaviness of the existing gym complex – becoming a lightweight pavilion that engages both the adjacent landscape and the main pedestrian axis of the campus. The expression evokes the organic structure and athleticism of the human body – a light-filled, athletic form in motion.

The structure presents an innovative use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels (normally used only for walls and decks), which have been adapted for use as deep, slender beams and columns fashioned together with hidden epoxied steel mesh and simple screws to form a rigid two-way span reminiscent of the structure of an aircraft wing – the wing itself being based on the organic, cellular structure of bone. The CLT panels have been shaped for maximum efficiency, with multiple components cut from standard rectangular panels with minimal waste. Imagine a balsa wood model aircraft with the parts stamped out of a rectangular sheet of wood. Here the efficiency comes from “stamping” precise shapes out of large simple pieces of wood, rather than the complicated laying up of curved glue-laminated columns and beams. The roof deck is also formed of CLT, as are composite CLT/concrete floors, which provide excellent rigidity, acoustic separation and two-way spanning ability. The CLT also forms partitions and millwork and incorporates distinctive BC beetle kill pine and BC Engleman spruce.

Related work: Featured Higher Education Wood Innovation