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UBC Earth Systems Science Building (ESSB)


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Interraweaetxdyvaydzcwq, Interra Architectural Products

Project Name

UBC Earth Systems Science Building (ESSB)


UBC Main Campus

Project Status


Year Completed



15,542 sq. meters

Construction Cost



University of British Columbia (Properties Trust)


  • Civil Engineer: ARUP

Certifications and Designations

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Project Description

The 170,005 SF building contains teaching, lab and office space, along with three lecture theatres.

The five-storey structure is organized into two wings that surround an open-concept atrium with a free-floating cantilevered solid timber staircase, a first of its kind in the world. Unlike the concrete laboratory wing, the academic wing uses wood as the primary structural material, providing a welcoming environment while storing approximately 1,094 tonnes of CO2 based on the 1,353 cubic metres of wood materials used in the project, the equivalent of taking 415 cars off the road for one year. North America’s largest panelized wood structure, ESB uses a combination of solid, cross-laminated wood and wood-concrete composite panels and raises the bar for the use of wood in large-scale, high-performance projects.

The building is also located directly across the street from the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, which presented an opportunity to develop a ‘museum precinct’ in this area of campus, contributing to and reinforcing the public realm along Main Mall, the campus’s primary axis. Promoting the project goal of ‘science on display,’ a double-height research lab space.

A feature of the building’s façade is a “geology teaching wall” where various stones are silicone glazed into a unitized curtain wall. This interactive wall allows students and faculty to connect with large format slabs of stone at eye level.

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