UBC's new student union building will make you want to go back to school

Three-storey climbing wall, student-run art gallery, and roof top garden are new features of the $107 million building

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      After seven years of planning, UBC's Alma Mater Society has unveiled its brand new, environmentally friendly student union building, the AMS Student Nest.

      Built with the hopes of achieving a LEED Platinum Certification—the highest green building rating in North America—the space is complete with a host of sustainable features, including solar-powered heating and cooling systems, in-vessel composting facilities, storm water management retention, and a roof top garden, which provides produce to AMS’s Perch restaurant. In addition, most of the wood used in the building's construction comes from locally sourced recycled pine beetle kill. 

      The Nest's predecessor, the SUB, was completed in 1968, when the campus was only home to 20,000 students. That number has since increased to 50,000. 

      "The AMS had to make a decision, whether they wanted to spend roughly $80 million renovating that space, or if they wanted to take that money and build something new," said Ava Nasiri, vice president of administration at AMS in an interview with the Straight.

      After a student-wide referendum, the decision was made, and a new building was created in association with architecture firms DIALOG and B+H. The $107 million space was funded by an increase in student fees and with support from the university.

      "It’s a huge upgrade, even just having natural light. Being able to see what other students are doing, it’s a very people oriented design compared to the old SUB,” said Chiyi Tam, sustainability coordinator with the AMS.

      The new five-storey building is roughly 250,000 square feet—a 50 per cent increase from the '60s era SUB. The student spaces and services are centered around a grand atrium with plenty of available seating for studying and socializing.

      “We also have a lot more space for our clubs, and they’re more interconnected which breeds more collaboration between the student groups on campus, which is great,” added Nasiri.

      The Nest also houses a number of visible, interactive areas that the AMS hopes will encourage students to take part in extracurricular activities, including a three-storey climbing wall, a soundproofed black box performance room, a student-run art gallery, an updated radio broadcasting studio, as well as 40 bookable spaces including a large ballroom and a number of studios and smaller conference rooms.

      In addition, the AMS runs a total of eight food and drink eateries and nine student services, including the famous Pit Pub, outfitted with an expansive 55-foot media screen. Services operated by outside vendors include a full service hair salon, an optometry shop, a grocery store, and a mobile phone retailer. A few areas of the building are still under construction, but the AMS hopes to have it completed in time for the start of the new school year.

      Check out some of the new features in the video below. 

      Amanda Siebert



      Nasir Jaffer (Meds 1975 !)

      Sep 1, 2015 at 7:49pm

      I remember the old SUB from the 70's with fond memories, but the new one is the futuristic model facilitating connectivity amongst students and with the outside world - Nice work
      For some of us who are not there physically , where exactly is the SUB located? And with the old SUB building
      Enjoy and hope to visit it one day