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Photo credit: Michael Elkan


Orchard Commons is the second of five mixed-use ‘hubs’ planned for the University of British Columbia (UBC) Point Grey Campus. Combining student housing, academic uses, and amenities into one facility, the intent is to promote diversity and social connection by bringing more activity and life to the heart of the campus. 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. 

The lawn area of Orchard Commons includes existing trees and turf that had no existing irrigation system prior to construction. Given that the trees and lawn are well-established, were all efforts were taken to protect them from disturbance during construction. Due to these efforts and the established nature of the existing planting no irrigation was required in this area. Urban agricultural planters on the roof also do not have irrigation but there are two hose bibs provided at the planters for users to hand-water any planting. Orchard Commons uses water efficient fixtures to reduce potable water use. Through using these low flow fixtures the project has achieved a calculated water use reduction of over %45.  [1]

Wood is used purposefully to mark gathering spaces such as the lounges, dining hall, and Vantage College’s common areas. Although precast concrete is not inherently the warmest of materials, using it in combination with computational modeling made it possible to soften the tower façades with organic curves, without blowing the budget. Only 18 different storey-high, modular precast forms were needed to fabricate the flowing patterns, and Grasshopper software was used to achieve the desired 60-40 solid-to-glass ratio on this LEED Gold-targeted project. [2]



Interior Design Institute of British Columbia, Award of Excellence, 2017


[1]     “Orchard Commons – Case Study.” UBC Vancouver Housing. University of British Columbia, n.d. https://vancouver.housing.ubc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Orchard-Commons-Design-Case-Study.pdf.

[2]       Young, Pamela. “Aiming Higher: Ryerson Service Hub, Orchard Commons, University College of the North, Alouette UQAC University Building.” Canadian Architect, June 19, 2019. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/aiming-higher/.

Additional information

Orchard Commons-Fostering Social Connection. Vimeo. Perkins and Will, 2021. https://vimeo.com/244701716.

“Orchard Commons.” Vancouver. Accessed May 31, 2021. https://vancouver.housing.ubc.ca/residences/orchard-commons/.

“Orchard Commons: Projects.” RDH Building Science, October 9, 2019. https://www.rdh.com/our-case-studies/orchard-commons/.

“University of British Columbia – Orchard Commons.” Education Snapshots, December 11, 2018. https://educationsnapshots.com/projects/1383/university-british-columbia-orchard-commons/.

Wolfe, Devon. “University of British Columbia Orchard Commons.” Perkins&Will, October 4, 2019. https://perkinswill.com/project/university-of-british-columbia-orchard-commons/.

Project Title: Orchard Commons, UBC
Artists:  Perkins&Will
Place: Vancouver, BC

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