Campus Life  

UBC Okanagan students get ready for a high-tech world with new facility

The Commons

Students at University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Okanagan campus will be well prepared for a high-tech world studying in The Commons, a new multipurpose facility outfitted with modern classrooms, technology labs and collaborative study areas.

“The new Commons building will help students and researchers thrive and succeed. UBC students are our future leaders in many areas such as tech, science and engineering, and they’re helping us build the best B.C,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “By investing in bright, modern facilities, students at UBC’s Okanagan campus now have the space they need that will help prepare them to be industry ready for in-demand 21st-century careers.”

The $35-million building was opened with an event attended by Stephen Fuhr, MP for Kelowna— Lake Country, on behalf of Navdeep Bains, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast, on behalf of Mark; Santa J. Ono, president, UBC; and university students, staff and faculty. As well, $5.8 million in environmental and sustainability upgrades across campus are now complete.

The Commons building has a high-tech 400-seat classroom, informal collaborative learning study areas, a digital technology centre and a graduate student commons. It also includes a visualization lab to facilitate high-resolution data modelling in research fields, such as advanced manufacturing, materials science and health and data science.

The classroom will be the largest on campus and enhance access to high-demand courses while supporting active learning. Accessibility was a key design element, with fully 20% of seating — roughly 90 locations — accessible to students using wheelchairs.

UBC Okanagan students played a special part in funding the new building, agreeing to a small annual levy, which contributed $9.8 million towards the construction costs of the centre.

“Modern learning spaces are key to helping students develop the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Bains. “Our government’s investment in The Commons building will support our world-class scientists, engineers and technicians while laying down the groundwork for innovation and cutting-edge research.” Investments through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund were used to modernize facilities at Canadian universities and colleges, as well as improve the energy efficiency of these facilities and reduce their impact on the environment.

Stephen Fuhr, MP for Kelowna — Lake Country

"Our government is proud to invest $2 billion for infrastructure improvement at post-secondary institutions across Canada. Modern learning spaces are key to helping students develop the skills they'll need for the jobs of today and tomorrow."

Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast

“Investing in students is investing in a positive future for all of us. The Commons at the University of British Columbia in the Okanagan provides students with a phenomenal teaching and learning facility. It will also benefit everyone through the cutting-edge research and highly trained graduates we’ll need to power our strong and innovative economy.”

Santa J. Ono, president and vice-chancellor, University of British Columbia

“We are so proud that these new facilities will continue to help UBC Okanagan students achieve their dreams. The University of British Columbia Okanagan is an innovative institution of choice that delivers a world-leading education, and this marks an important moment in its history. This new facility is only possible thanks to the financial support of our partners in the federal and provincial governments, as well as the current and former students who contributed nearly $10 million to the project.”

Amal Alhuwayshil, president, UBC Students Union Okanagan

“Students were the first donors to The Commons and have contributed $10 million to the project. We are very proud of this legacy, which we leave to future generations of students and to our UBC Okanagan campus. These new spaces open up much-needed study space and inspire collaboration. They support our ability to create world-class projects, right here at UBC Okanagan.”

Quick Facts

  • The Commons and campus sustainability upgrades were funded with $15.97 million from the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF), $11.33 million from the Province of British Columbia, and $13.47 million from UBC.
  • In B.C., 20 public post-secondary institutions and one private First Nations institution benefited from a total of 30 individual projects through SIF.
  • Investments through SIF are being used to modernize facilities at Canadian universities and colleges, as well as improve the energy efficiency of these facilities and reduce their impact on the environment. As a result of these investments, students, professors and researchers will work in state-of-the-art facilities that advance the country’s best research. They will collaborate in specially designed spaces that support lifelong learning and skills training. They will work in close proximity with partners to turn discoveries into products or services. In the process, they will train for and invent, the high-value jobs of the future.
  • The provincial government recently launched the CleanBC plan to cut air pollution, boost the economy and make life better for people. The sustainability upgrades to buildings across campus support CleanBC by reducing CO2 emissions, improving efficiency and lowering energy consumption.
  • Total capital funding for all B.C. SIF projects is $682 million: $256 million from the Government of Canada, $269 million from the Province of British Columbia and $157 million from post-secondary institutions and donors.
  • The SIF portion of all 30 projects are now substantially complete.
  • With the official completion of the two projects at the UBC Okanagan campus, there are now six more projects to be officially opened.

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