The UBC Life Sciences Research Centre provides 556,000 sf of teaching and research facilities for the study of life sciences as well as medical student training at the university. The facility focuses on research including anatomy, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, medical genetics, and bio-informatics. The new building houses the UBC School of Medicine; the research facility, Life Sciences Institute; the Centre for Blood Research; and the Centre for Disease Modeling.
The lab program is distributed into three lab blocks, each five storeys high. These are composed of flexible wet and dry labs and shared lab support space with offices and meeting rooms distributed at each end of the labs. The blocks are bridged together to form two large, skylit atria. Each atrium has an elevator and washroom core to distribute circulation capacity, reinforce the building's clear disposition of program, and orient visitors.
A wide internal colonnade is the central organizing device on the main floor. This internal street is oriented parallel to the natural east-west campus travel paths, provides a clear address to the building, and provides easy recognition of the lab blocks, the various lecture theatres, and administrative functions.
The two lower levels with interstitial floors house major mechanical and electrical rooms, highly specialized containment laboratories, a gross anatomy teaching lab, plastination rooms and morgue, 96,000-sf vivarium, 8,000-sf enhanced BSL-2 facility including a Prion lab, 5,500-sf BSL-3 facility (3 zones), 1,500-sf 7.3 Tesla MRI facility for small animals, a 5,000-sf imaging facility with electron microscope facilities and a 400 MHz NMR spectrometer, materials management, administration, and building management areas. The materials management area is carefully designed to provide dedicated and secure vehicular access for a variety of trucks, ambulance, and service vehicles, while monitoring security and containment issues relating to the handling and storage of hazardous and security sensitive materials.
The Life Sciences Centre has been awarded USGBC LEED™ Gold certification. It is one of only a few lab buildings in North America to receive this designation. Energy modeling was used extensively from initial site planning and massing design to envelope; mechanical & electrical systems were specified to ensure appropriate consideration of first time capital expense against life cycle costing models. Zoned offices are equipped with operable windows, thermostat control for maximum environmental control with minimal cost, and a cascading air supply (offices to lab) which reuses clean office exhaust air to create negative pressure in the lab areas reducing the need for exterior conditioned air. In addition, demolition and construction methods were specified to encourage recycling, lessen environmental impact, and to ensure best possible air quality from demolition to commissioning and occupancy.