The Life Sciences Centre (LSC) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is located west of Vancouver on a peninsula overlooking the Georgia Strait. An international hub for medical research and education, the centre was designed by the Canadian based architectural firm of Diamond and Schmitt Architects Incorporated of Toronto in joint venture with Bunting Coady Architects of Vancouver. The LSC achieved LEED® Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) in December 2005, and is currently the largest building in Canada to achieve LEED® Gold certification. This is regarded as particularly impressive, due to the building’s significant laboratory component. Only a handful of laboratories in North America have achieved the LEED® Gold rating.
Built at a cost of $125 million Canadian, the LSC opened in six phases starting in September 2004, only 29 months after breaking ground. The building is composed of three large five-storey blocks, connected by atriums, with two basement levels (Figures 1–3). It contains a range of different spaces including laboratories with Biosafety ratings of 2 and 3, two lecture theatres each seating up to 350 students, a 128-seat lecture theatre, and 42 classrooms of varying sizes. With an area of 52,165 square metres (561,521 sq. feet), the LSC is currently the largest building at UBC (Source: Yuill 2005).
The Life Sciences Centre was created to address the critical shortage of doctors and boost Life Sciences research in the province of BC. Before the centre opened in 2004, BC had had the lowest number of first-year medical-school spaces per capita of any region of Canada, reflecting a much deeper Canada-wide crisis where the country is currently training less than three quarters of the Doctors it needs (Source: Canadian Medical Association 2003). The LSC allows the UBC Faculty of Medicine to almost double its enrolment, graduating 224 new physicians every year by 2009 (Source: Office Of The Premier 2004).
The creation of the Life Sciences Centre also allows the province to train doctors in the north and on Vancouver Island for the first time, permitting the inhabitants of BC to be treated by physicians trained in their region of the province. Two new medical school facilities at the University of Northern BC (UNBC) in Prince George and the University of Victoria (UVIC) are linked to the LSC through state-of-the-art tele-learning facilities. All students will receive a UBC medical degree upon completion of their studies (Source: Office of the Premier 2004).
The UBC Life Sciences Centre currently accommodates a community of 2,654 people including researchers, graduate students, medical students, professors, and administrative staff (Source: Yuill 2005). It provides a forum to accelerate and strengthen learning and is helping to address the critical physician shortage in BC. Gordon Campbell is the Premier of BC: “The LSC takes medical education and research in BC to the next level, providing a setting where doctors and other health professionals of tomorrow will learn next to researchers who are discovering future treatments and cures” (Source: Office of the Premier 2004).