UBC Faculty Of Pharmaceutical Sciences / CDRD
By Eva Bjerring
Located at the heart of the UBC Campus the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) marks a characteristic and iconic entry point to the south-eastern corner of the University of British Colombia in Vancouver, Canada.
Designed by Canadian architects Saucier + Perrotte, from Montreal in collaboration with countrymen Hughes Condon Marler Architects, HCMA, of Vancouver the building was completed in 2012.
Transformed Into Character
At first glance the pharmaceutical branch, holding research, teaching, and office facilities in one, could seem like yet another strike from the steel and glass mafia.
But once you take a closer look, this building grows on you.
On the three sides, the glass curtain walls hold the building in a delightfully strict, modernistic design. Then on the west façade the dancing cubes rising from the cantilevered structure give the building a futuristic jolt. Underlined by the string-lined lightning inside the building, it almost knocks you backwards, taking any visitor by storm.
The CDRD is more than yet another faculty building. Overlooking a plaza with an additional abstract design that extends the buildings rectangular plan. This gives an otherwise anonymous corner of the campus a striking identity, asserting UBC’s position not only as one of the top research universities internationally, but also within the field of campus architecture.
This is an icon.
The Tree of Knowledge
The idea behind the building design is to convey the history of medicine underlining the importance of what is produced here and to make space for researchers, faculty members, students and the public to meet in order to strengthen and promote new methods of individual and collaborative research.
To obtain these qualities the architects at Saucier + Perrotte Architects and HCMA worked with the concept of the tree, where the branches intertwines creating a complete system of interconnections above the earthbound and life-giving ground level.
The trunks – the ground floor is split in sections – manifest themselves architectonically as the light filled atria that service all ranges of programs.
Warmth from the Future
Unlike so many other buildings with a glass-steel cold façade and an inner clad in contrasting warmth this building stays true to what is promised when eying it from the outside due to the futuristic zigzagging of the element in accordance with the lively façade.
Inside the building has quite a warm tone due to the intelligent compilation of wood planks, special cast concrete, white walls and mix of yellow and black coloring. The clever composition of the materials makes even the concrete look warm and inviting.
Here exchange of knowledge is the main goal. The public functions are gathered on the ground floor and the building’s transparent and inviting design easily connects it to the surrounding community. To underline this connection an exhibition space open to the public displaying vitrines, which can easily be navigated by any one visiting, has been incorporated in the building as well.
On the additional levels laboratories, seminar rooms and offices are placed in a light an airy rooms providing the best facilities for the users of the building.
A Concept that Works
It takes intelligent architects to transform such an abstract idea and something soft and efflorescent into a razor sharp, futuristic state of the art building – you must hand it to Saucier + Perrotte Architects and HCMA , they did indeed succeed in this field.
This is a unique building that completely fulfills the new guidelines of the campus that intend to increase density, strengthen a sense of place, and promote design quality. The concept works, providing the campus with a convincing architectural experience, even if you do not know the tree story beforehand.
Take a tour around the building with the students, who clearly love their new academic home.